Daniel Baldwin’s Promise to PJ in the Encierro
The North American actor visited our International Press Office to receive advice to film a documentary as a memorial of his friend who died of a drug overdose
Overly excited and still panting, the North American actor, Daniel Baldwin, talked of fulfilling his dream on July 12, 2019 in Sanfermines. He had run the last stretch of Estafeta in the encierro and had a certain shine on his face: these were drops of sweat above a tremendous smile. It was only one or two minutes after the end of the encierro, and Baldwin was happy.
“My heart is still racing, but especially I feel tremendously fulfilled.” Baldwin had just kept a promise to a friend who had passed away: run the encierro with the bulls of Pamplona in the “dead man´s curve” as many foreigners call this 90 º turn where Mercaderes street twists dangerously.
Daniel, 58-years-old, is the second of four Baldwin brothers – William, Stephen and Alec, a dynasty of Hollywood actors. Unlike his other brothers, Daniel is better known on television rather than in movies – especially for his roles as a detective in the NBC series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and others such as “Cold Case” or “Hawai 5.0”
Throughout his rough and tumble life acting, Daniel Baldwin admits to having had a life of excesses. But after some time, Baldwin came back from the dark and wanted to make a promise to his childhood friend, Patrick Michael Raynor or PJ. They both had written a list of ten things that they wanted to do together when they had triumphed over some of their addictions. On both their lists was “run with the bulls in Sanfermines”, so they marked it.
PJ promised to do this when he had been sober for two years. Unfortunately his encierro never happened. In spite of the fact that PJ had been sober for three years and clean of addictions, they still had not been able to find room in their calendars to come to Pamplona. Then one day, Daniel Baldwin received a devastating telephone call. “Listen. PJ is dead”. Baldwin´s friend had died of an overdose. “I didn’t know that he continued having problems or that he still was hooked”, says Baldwin quietly.
The news left Daniel broken. “I felt an enormous emptiness”, says the actor. So he decided to begin a physical and mental transformation, preparing himself to run this encierro and film a documentary in honor of his dead friend, titled precisely, “My Promise to PJ”.
Filming began in February of last year. Daniel Baldwin decided to get in shape and he has lost since then more than 57 lbs. He goes running every day and has gained in speed and belief in himself. The encierro of July 12 is to be the end of the film. The narrative finale – “I believe that fulfilling this promise will help me to keep going ahead and survive the death of my friend”, says Baldwin. “I’m guided by him and my faith is also strong.” So much so that he confesses that he ran the encierro with a handful of ashes of his friend that he kept in a small bag.
“I decided to document this because my desire is to bring a message of hope”, affirms Baldwin. “What happens to the people we leave behind?”; he asks himself: the documentary reflects on the lives that we leave interrupted when we die suddenly: “It can be a traffic accident, or a plane crash, cancer or when anything occurs that you never expected.”
A father or a mother never should have to bury their children. It´s not natural. This is a message to give a voice to these people. I, myself, was mad; I was furious at my friend, very frustrated, and I felt that the fight to become clean had been useless. Everything we had achieved. And then everything we lost because of his stupid decision – that last dose. So I want to launch a message. It doesn’t have to be that way. There is help; there are ways to do what is right, to come out ahead; and it´s not necessary to be isolated. In our country, each year we lose young people to addictions in numbers much higher than the boys we lost in the war of Vietnam. This is an epidemic! Some 70,000 young people dead just this year,” explains Baldwin.
“As a filmmaker and actor, I can do large projects or small ones, some commercial, others, not – but on top of everything, if I can make a film, just one film that can save the life of just one person or make him or her stop and think…Bravo! It will have been worth the trouble if we can use media communication in a positive way.”
About Football and the Encierro
The actor, Daniel Baldwin, who arrived in Pamplona from Barcelona, visited the Oficina Internacional de Prensa of Sanfermines to gather information, together with his friend and producer of the documentary, Andy Bowels, about permission in order to film the encierro and receive accreditations as well as other advice, including how best to run with the bulls.
This second Baldwin was an outstanding American football player, and he believes that important experience can be of help. “In American football, we first have the kick off, which is when you alone have to catch the ball while the other players run after you. You don´t know what the man in front of you is going to do. It´s as unpredictable as a bull. The only thing you know is that you have to run with the ball and try to dodge, avoid or think about what is going to happen. You end up bruised, sometimes bloody and trampled on. You have to be prepared for anything.”
And finally, yes. Daniel Baldwin ran in the encierro on July 12 and survived. He could be described as radiant from the experience. Instead of dressing in the traditional white, Baldwin chose a black t-shirt from a well-known football team with a red scarf on which you could read in English, “ In life, take the bull by the horns.” Baldwin was happy to sign autographs for those who recognized him as well as pictures and hugs.
During these last few days of Sanfermines, Baldwin will take advantage of enjoying the fiesta and walk around Pamplona – a city that impressed him greatly from the very first. “I was living for a year in Sardinia and Pamplona reminds me a little of that and the fiestas they have. Seeing how elderly people are together with young ones, children from different families, dances in the street. I love this feeling of community – that sensation of forming a part of something. Of the vitality. It´s fascinating.”