Cornelia Guest, animal rights, actress, and the daughter of the legendary socialite C.Z. Guest, has a new role this year's most anticipated television show, the new Twin Peaks. Cornelia can't reveal too much about the series until it premieres this Sunday (creator David Lynch is notoriously committed to secrecy - he doesn't send screeners to critics and not even the trailers reveal much), but we took the opportunity to ask her about Hollywood, Studio 54, and those famous photographs that Slim Aarons took of her mother.
What can you tell me about the new Twin Peaks?
I can basically tell you nothing - it premiere this Sunday at 9pm on Showtime!
Were you a fan of the original Twin Peaks?
I was a fan of the show and I am also a huge fan of David Lynch. I love his movies.
What was it like working with him?
He is amazing and he is very easy to work with. He loves actors, and he couldn’t be more wonderful.
How did the role come about for you?
My agent, David Gonzales, told me that I had an audition with the casting agents Johanna Ray and Krista Hausar. No one knew what it was - we didn’t even know that the audition was for Twin Peaks. I only found out what it was when I got cast in the role.
When did you start acting?
A long time ago, when I was a teenager. I studied at the Strasberg school in New York and then I came out to California and did some films when I was in my twenties but then I moved back home. Two years ago I found a great agent, and he put me back to work.
What is your favorite film project that you have worked on?
Without a doubt, Twin Peaks.
Do you have any other films or television shows in the works?
I had a small part in the movie Carrie Pilby, and now I’m auditioning and I am up for a couple of other roles. And I am starting to produce also, which is fun. I’m working on a polo movie. Its called Stick Rider and it is written by Dave Hunsacker, who is a fantastic writer, and its about the East-West polo matches that took place in Chicago in the 1940’s. Polo was the sport of kings and the film it takes place in Long Island where all the Whitney family and my parents and my cousins all kept their polo ponies.
Slim Aarons took such iconic photos of your mother at your parent’s house in Palm Beach - what was Palm Beach like then?
Palm Beach is still the same. All those houses, all those people - well, some of them aren’t with us anymore - but it was such a magical place. Palm Beach is such a jewel and there’s nothing like the beaches, the pools, and the way people are there. It’s an amazing place.
Do you think society has changed since then? What would your mother think of it now?
I think that she saw the same amount of changes in her own lifetime. When people see change, they go with it. You have to look at everything with a sense of humor And I think that my mother would really like some of the changes, and some if she really wouldn’t like. My mother was a real stickler for manners and she always dressed to fly - she was beautifully dressed when she traveled.
You were known for frequenting Studio 54, which opened 40 years ago last month. Do you have any favorite memories of the club?
That place was amazing - it was like watching a carnival go on, it had an incredible energy. I have a lot of great memories. Halston used to take me there - I think the first time I ever went I snuck it. I must have been about 16.
I do have one favorite memory. After I came out at the [1981 Debutante] Cotillion, I went to Studio 54 to go dancing with my mother and a bunch of other guests. There was fake snow on the ground and I fell and was sliding across the floor on my rear end and my mother thought I was being pulled on a sleigh. The next day I got up and our dresses were covered in snow - my coming out dress was by Carolina Herrera and my mother wore this beautiful strapless red velvet Oscar de la Renta. We took them to Madame Paulette to get them fixed and they were horrified and probably thinking, “where have these women been? Where have Mrs. Guest and Cornelia been? Because these things are filthy!” The poor dresses were at Madame Paulette’s for a month getting cleaned.
Do you think New York City nightlife has changed since then?
Yes, it was fun then! You had Studio 54, Xenon, Le Club, and all those clubs downtown. I don’t know where you go dancing now- I don’t think there’s a discotheque left in New York. I guess there is Doubles.
You moved out of Templeton, your family’s Long Island estate, a few years ago. Where are you living now?
I split my time between California and upstate New York. I am living in Ancramdale, New York, about two hours out of the city. I have started a mini horse and donkey rescue. Its called Artemis Farm Rescue, and I rescue mini horses and donkeys. I have rescued about seventy animals, and I have found wonderful homes for about thirty so far.
I rescue the animals from kill pens, we save them from slaughter. If owners can’t afford to keep them anymore, or if people they find out that they can make money off of them, they send the animals to auction. But when these little creatures go to auction, such a slim percentage of them find nice homes. The rest of them are either slaughtered for meat, used as zoo food or dog fighting bait, or used for hunting to draw other animals out. I started with five of them last year and it has grown. We’re a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. So between the acting and my little furballs, I’m busy. I am also on the board of the Humane Society in New York- I try to do as much for animals as I possibly can, I don’t eat them.
Do you have any other pets besides the mini horses and donkeys at the farm?
I do, I have a tortoise named Socrates and I have six dogs. They were all rescues, except for one who was a present. I have one little one, a west highland terrier, who travels with me, but all the others are at home on the farm.
For more, follow @CorneliaGuest on Instagram and visit Artemisfarmrescue.com
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