Cornelia Guest has had a remarkable life. As the daughter of C.Z. and Winston Guest (her godparents were Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor!!) she made her debut in the winter of 1981-1982 at the International Debutante Ball at the Waldorf-Astoria and was a New York City darling with friends like Halston, Warhol, and Capote.
Nowadays she’s focused on her acting career and passion for animals. She’s currently one of the stars of the indie, The Shuroo Process, out today, about a group of strangers who head upstate to get help from Guru Shuroo and have their lives changed. In other words: the must see dramedy is everything you wanted Nine Perfect Strangers to be. Directed by Emrhys Cooper, the film stars Donal Brophy as Shuroo and co-stars Fiona Dourif, Tommy Dorfman, and Rainey Qualley.
Last week we got on the phone with the delightful Guest to hear more about her role, talk animals, and throw in a few questions about some of the legends in her life.
How did you meet Emrhys and Donal?
I met them from a friend of mine in upstate New York. They were thinking of using her farm, which was five minutes down the street from my place, as a location. She was telling me about them and I went over and met them. I was bowled over. I loved the script and I loved them. They have an amazing energy—they’re so creative. They were like torpedos getting this project done. They got the script, they got the money, they got the location, they got the cast, and they shot it. Nothing stopped them. They were like bulldozers! It’s wonderful to work with people like that. Emrhys was amazing!
What was he like as a director?
Fantastic. He was wonderful. He was very supportive and let you try different things. He was very kind.
What was it about this role that made you want to do it?
Jade had been so heartbroken. Then she has such a sweet love story with Willy. You love to see people come out of their shell. It’s nice when someone get the rug pulled out from under them to have a happy ending. To fall in love and find that love later in life is wonderful.
What did you love about this script?
[The character] Shuroo was so naughty! He’s naughty and he knows it and he goes with it. Even though he’s naughty, so much good comes out of it. Everyone makes peace with some big issues they have. Everyone comes out a better person because of him. I think he even does, too, which is great.
What was the shoot like?
We had a ball! Hakeem Kae-Kazim, who plays Willy, is one of the most wonderful men in the world. The younger kids in the cast like Tommy [Dorfman], Olivia [Sui], and Rainey [Qualley] were all great. We had a good time up there.
What did you do when you weren’t shooting?
Oh, we were shooting! If we weren’t shooting, we were probably sleeping! We shot a lot of nights! On the days we were off, I would zip home because I lived close to the location.
Your love of animals is evident from your Instagram account. How many animals do you own and what do you love about them so much?
I love their kindness. There’s no judgment and they can’t speak. They communicate with us but they can’t speak the way we speak. I always trusted animals and bonded with them. I’ve always loved them and have felt very lucky that they love me, too. Right now, I have a turtle named Socrates, two donkeys, Madonna and Snooks, and I have a little mini named Hubert. My old horse is Necco. I’ve also rescued a mom and a little baby donkey a few weeks ago and I named them Bobby and Magnolia. I have my West Highland Terrier, Olive. I have a Jack Russell named Winston. I have a Great Pyrenees named Love. I have a Chihuahua named Oscar, and I have two Great Danes, Pearl and Lila.
That’s a lot! How do you come up with the names?
Madonna had her name when they gave her to me. I named the two donkeys because it was my friend Bobby Harling’s birthday. He wrote Steel Magnolias so I thought the momma’s name would be cute as Magnolia and the little baby boy would be Bobby. A lot of them came named! Winston was named by a friend after my dad.
Random question! What kind of dog food do you use?
For the big ones I use Gentle Giant and sometimes I use Royal Canine as a kibble. I feed them vegetables and sometimes chicken or turkey. I would love to have vegan dogs, but they weren’t so happy when I did it.
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You moved to Texas just a few years ago. What’s your life like there now?
I love Texas! I’m in LA and New York so much. I’m all over the place. It’s easy for me to get everywhere. I had moved to upstate New York and it was so cold. It was unbearable in the winter. I wanted a place that was warmer and a place where I could get land that was affordable to have animals. I found Texas!
You’ve written books in the past. Are you working on any other books?
I might do another entertaining book one day, but I’ve never really wanted to write about my life. I’m kind of a private person that way. I don’t ever really like to talk about people that are dead. It doesn’t seem that books that are happy sell so well. I don’t want to say a lot of mean stuff about people; I don’t think it’s right. We all have our bumps and our bruises and I think that’s private for people. Unless they themselves want to talk about it. If you want to talk about your life and all the things you’ve gone through, that’s fine. I don’t think it’s right for me to do it.
The word socialite comes up when you Google you. It’s not a word that’s used as often these days. Some people think influencers are the new socialites.
The connotation of a socialite in my mother’s generation used to be that these women raised a lot of money for charity. I don’t even know what a socialite is today. I don’t love that word—I think the connotation is bad now. I think influencers are great!
What do you think the connotation of socialite is today?
I don’t even know! Maybe a party girl?
Do you still follow fashion closely and what designers do you admire?
I love fashion! I love Herrera. Carolina Herrera is like my second mother. She’s like my aunt, my sister. She’s been a dear family friend for years and years. I love what Wes Gordon does and I wear a lot of their clothes. I also wear a lot of Oscar. He was an old friend, too. I love J.Crew! I love Johanna Ortiz. She does a great job. I like classic clothes.
What comes to your mind when you think of Carolina Herrera?
Her laugh! She loves to laugh. She’s so funny and she loves to have fun. She always looks beautiful and she always keep everyone in line, which I love. I used to steal clothes from her closet all the time because her daughters are good friends of mine. She always looks just immaculate.
Can we talk about Halston? I know you were close with him. What was he like?
I adored him. He was wonderful, he was kind, and I learned so much about clothes from him. There was no one that could drape like he did. He’d get mad if I didn’t walk right. He taught me so much about the presentation of a dress and how you’d walk in it. I was so young when I knew him so it was so wonderful to have someone like that be a stickler and tell me to get my shoulders back or how to walk in high heels. I had so much appreciation for how he would dress these women. My God— they would look so beautiful. He was such a maverick of his time. What he did with JC Penney and the airlines…he paved the way for so many people now. He was so ahead of his time. People tend to forget how big Halston was. Halston was it!
Will you share your Studio 54 story?
It was exam time and I had to stay home and study. A friend of mine called and said, ‘Let’s go to Studio 54!’ I said I’ll meet you there in an hour. I was there having a very good time and Halston came up to me and grabbed me by the ear and said. “You are going home! You have to go studio for exams!” I was so mortified! Getting kicked out of Studio 54 to go home and study!
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That’s amazing! Congratulations again on the movie!
A huge congrats to the producers and everyone involved in Shuroo! They got it done! They did a great job! It put such a smile on my face when I speak to Emrhys and Donal. They are so cute and so wonderful. They’re such a great team. I was so blessed to work with them!
The Shuroo Process is out today!