ASBURY PARK, NJ -- Daniel Baldwin, an American actor, director, and producer, discussed his documentary "My Promise to PJ" at the Garden State Film Festival. The documentary focuses on the aftermath of the drug overdose of PJ Raynor, the son of long-time family friend Barbara Jean, and the effects addiction has on families and friends.
Because Barbara knew Daniel since he was four and knows he works with addicts, she reached out to Baldwin when her son was struggling. “At the time, he was in trouble with the law, non-violent, non-sexual, but stealing to try to support his habit,” Baldwin explained. “So I called the D.A., and I talked to the Judge,” Baldwin said.
Baldwin put PJ into rehab three times and the third time brought PJ to California. On his first night, Baldwin asked PJ to write a bucket list of 10 things he always wanted to do but wouldn’t be able to do if he was in prison or overdosed. Then Baldwin pulled out his bucket list. “We had one match. To run with the bulls in Pamplona, Spain,” Baldwin said. “I told him if you get two years sober, I will take you to run with the bulls.” PJ became sober for three years.
Unfortunately, Baldwin and PJ never had a chance to go to Spain. “PJ ended up deciding to shoot up again. The first shot was laced with fentanyl. He overdosed and died,” Baldwin explained. “I really struggled with it.”
To diminish his demons and anger, Baldwin decided to fulfill his promise to PJ. He began training and dieting. He lost 57 pounds in five months. “I took his ashes, I flew to Pamplona, and I ran with the bulls and spewed his ashes in the stadium,” Baldwin said.
Andy Bowles, producer and director of photography, filmed Baldwin running with the bulls in Spain. “It was the most intense moment I’ve ever filmed in my life,” Bowles explained. “When you see the film, you’ll see the bull horn missed him by that much. I was wondering if I was going to have to go down and help him because the bulls will trample you.”
Baldwin reveals that keeping his promise to PJ and running with the bulls did not alleviate his pain. “It did nothing,” Baldwin said. “But I learned something really really important that did help me get through it. But you’re going to have to watch the film.”