John Buffalo Mailer, the pouty-lipped 31-year-old son of Norman and Norris Church Mailer, has mainly been a theater actor and playwright. (Hello Herman, which he wrote in college, recently underwent a revival in Los Angeles, with Sawyer Spielberg, son of Steven, playing the lead.) But recently, Mr. Mailer finished filming for Wall Street 2, the sequel to Oliver Stone’s seminal 1987 film. He plays protagonist Shia LeBeouf’s character’s best friend, Robbie.
“He’s a good-hearted day trader and ultimately trying to look out for his buddy and do the right thing,” said Mr. Mailer when the Transom bumped into him at the Pen Edmont holiday benefit, the volunteer organization that works with high-school students in underserved communities to encourage reading and writing, at Half King on Sunday, Dec. 13. Mr. Mailer, whose late father was the president of the PEN American Center between 1984 and 1986, was invited to join the committee by his friend, Edmont co-founder Stephanie LaCava, who works at Vogue.
To prepare for his role, Mr. Mailer underwent voice training for a Long Island accent and shadowed traders at several firms during the summer. “One of the more exciting places was Johns Thomas Financial,” he said. “Tommy Belesis [the CEO], who is also in the movie, is essentially a ringmaster and he fires up his 300 traders like you wouldn’t believe. I was shadowing from 9 in the morning to about 6, and when Tommy finished his morning speech, I was on my feet from then on, so I kind of understood the addiction to the adrenaline. It was amazing. The traders eat their lunch at their desk, take a few smoke breaks and pop an Adderall to keep it going.”
Mr. Mailer, who described himself as coming from a “liberal” perspective, said he was biased against Wall Street before spending time at the firm. “I always thought that you’re not actually making anything. You’re taking money from here and putting it there and taking a cut,” he said. “But there are some traders out there who are doing some very good things with the money that they’re moving around. What I discovered is that actually a lot of medical research is financed because of firms like this and education programs. The world would stop without Wall Street.”
The Mailer name, alas, did not impress his new financial-whiz friends. “I don’t think the Wall Street world is [my father’s] biggest fan base,” Mr. Mailer said.
Meanwhile, his screenplay for Norm’s The Naked and the Dead lies waiting. “I was unbelievably bummed that I couldn’t get that thing made while he was alive,” John Buffalo said. “It’s such a huge-budget film that we need the right packaging. But when the time is right for the next $100 million World War II movie, I think it’s in the running.”