"The laughter is unlike most settings you’ll find. The level of intensity, the adrenaline, the stakes are incredible. I mean, it is addictive." As an actor and playwright, you might think John Buffalo Mailer is talking about the close-knit world of theater. In fact, he's referring to Wall Street, where he shadowed high-powered traders to prepare for his role in Oliver Stone's "Wall Street" sequel—and where he found his preconceived notions about the world of finance blown apart.

"There is a lot of good that these guys do," Mailer explains in his Big Think interview. "To lump all traders into a category is as insane as lumping any group of people into one category." He ended up not only having fun in spite of himself, but also feeling that Wall Street is "not at all" at odds with Main Street—and hoping that the film, scheduled for release this year, will "serve as a way for us to bridge that gap."

Mailer, son of the late novelist Norman, also discusses the many things his father taught him about writing and manhood, including a lesson in courage during his mother's ongoing bout with cancer. (His mother Norris Church Mailer, also a writer, has offered her own perspective on the family's story in a recent memoir.) Defending his father against accusations of humorlessness and misogyny, he declares that the writer "loved women" and retells his father's favorite joke.

Finally, as the former executive editor of High Times magazine, Mailer makes an economic, historical, and personal case for the legalization of marijuana—while at the same time wondering whether making weed respectable will destroy its outlaw appeal. He even drops some tantalizing hints about what more than a few college students have wondered over the years: what it's actually like to work at High Times.