Feeling the Adrenaline of Wall Street

Question: How did you\r\nstudy for your role in “Wall Street 2”?

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John Buffalo Mailer: \r\n It was a fairly extensive rehearsal\r\nprocess.  I took trips out to Long\r\nIsland, kind of just got the feel of the town that we had set my \r\ncharacter\r\ncoming from, voice lessons, learning the floor, learning the actual \r\ntrade of\r\nWall Street traders.  It was kind\r\nof an incredible process.  So Shia\r\n[LeBouf] and myself and several other people, we just spent as many \r\nhours as we\r\ncould shadowing different traders on the floor kind of finding where it \r\nstands\r\ntoday, how it’s different from the first Wall Street, how it’s the same.  It was an amazing ride.  I’ll \r\ntell you that.

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Question: How has Wall\r\nStreet culture changed since the original film came out?

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John Buffalo Mailer: \r\n Well the numbers are bigger for one\r\nthing.  It’s much more global.  It’s\r\n less centric to whatever area\r\nyou’re in.  You know, some floors\r\nyou go in and when the bell rings it’s silent and all you see are the \r\ncomputer\r\nscreens starting to light up as people do different trades.  It used to be kind of like a big bang\r\nwould start off the day.  A company\r\nthat was I think the one I learned the most from, just in terms of my \r\nown character\r\nand the kind of firm he worked in, was John Thomas Financial. And there \r\nit’s\r\nlike, you know, warriors in an arena getting ready for battle.  Thomas Belesis just fires these guys up\r\nlike there is no tomorrow, and I absolutely got addicted to that \r\noptimism and\r\nadrenaline and that “We’re going to do it, we’re going to do it, buddy” \r\nkind of\r\nattitude that he had, so you know it runs the full spectrum.  His firm is much more like what it used\r\nto be in terms of warriors on a mission. \r\nI think now it’s a lot more relaxed.  You \r\nsee a lot of sneakers and jeans at places depending on\r\nwhich firm you’re talking to.

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Question: What surprised\r\nyou about Wall Street culture?

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John Buffalo Mailer: \r\n I had a lot of preconceived notions\r\ngoing in.  It wasn’t an industry\r\nthat I really respected much.  My\r\nfeeling was kind of like look, you’re not making anything. \r\n You’re taking money from one place,\r\nputting it in another and taking your cut and that’s just not really \r\nkind of\r\nsoul-satisfying at the end of the day, but what I learned is, on a \r\nlarger scale\r\nis how much the Wall Street industry funnels and fuels so many others \r\nand we\r\nwould not have a lot of medical research without it.  We\r\n would not have, you know, educational programs without\r\nit.  There is a lot of good that these\r\nguys do, and to lump all traders into a category is as insane as lumping\r\n any\r\ngroup of people into one category. \r\nYou’re going to find the good people and bad all around.  I had a lot of fun with those\r\nguys.  The laughter is unlike most\r\nsettings you’ll find.  The level of\r\nintensity, the adrenaline, the stakes are incredible.  I\r\n mean it is addictive.  I can understand why \r\npeople end up spending 23 or 24 hours a\r\nday hitting it.

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Question: Is Wall Street\r\nfundamentally at odds with Main Street?

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John Buffalo Mailer: \r\n No, not at all.  Not at all. \r\n I mean I think one of the larger problems going on right now\r\nis, debate has replaced discussion. \r\nAs I say you can’t lump Wall Street into one category.  That doesn’t mean anything.  Every\r\n firm has a different attitude and\r\ndoes different things and puts their cherries in certain places and \r\ntheir money\r\nin others.  Some are vicious,\r\nnasty, I will cut you down at all costs to make a buck, some have a much\r\n higher\r\nmoral standard.  My hope is that\r\nthe film will actually serve as a way for us to bridge that gap between \r\nWall\r\nStreet and Main Street.  Certainly\r\nthat’s dealt with in the film of how it does affect everybody, so, you \r\nknow, I\r\nalways find that when you can create a movie or a play or a book that \r\ngives\r\nsomebody a safe theoretical place to discuss what is really going on in \r\nthe day\r\nit tends to forward discussion, so that would be my hope coming out of \r\nthe\r\nfilm.

Recorded March 30, 2010
Interviewed by Austin Allen

Preparing for his role in "Wall Street 2," the actor discovered just how addictive Wall Street culture is—and why it’s not as soulless as many believe.

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