July 16, 2007 — -- For the four Baldwin brothers, Hollywood's white hot glare is just another a fact of life.
Actors Alec, Daniel, Billy and Stephen, all fixtures on the gossip pages and red carpet, may seem to live in a different world. But one issue has touched this famous family which also affects 25 percent of American families: addiction.
In an interview with "Primetime," Daniel said, "I'm a straight-up cocaine addict. I don't really drink very much, although I have abused alcohol in the past. And I don't use any other drugs. I don't take pills. I don't do anything. I'm a … diehard coke head."
Daniel let "Primetime" follow his progress through drug rehabilitation, to shine a light on the mind of an addict and to share the personal issues that may have landed the 46-year-old in rehab for the ninth time.
Daniel Leroy Baldwin was born on Oct. 6, 1960, in the middle class town of Massapequa, N.Y., on Long Island. He was the third child in a large Irish Catholic family. Beth was the oldest, then came Alec -- whom the family call Xander -- and then Daniel. Three years later, Billy was born, followed by Jane and, finally, Stephen. In 11 years, half a dozen Baldwin kids had entered the world.
Daniel said that Alec is the big star, Stephen is the born-again Christian and Billy is popular with the girls. When asked how he plans to stop being known as "the drug one," Daniel acknowledges "that's what some people would say." But he also said, "I think most people, when they know…Hollywood, would say, 'He's probably the best actor.'"
Today Carol Baldwin is a 77-year-old breast cancer survivor and the founder of the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Care Center of University Hospital and Medical Center at Stony Brook. When Daniel was a child, she was a teacher-turned-stay-at-home mom.
Daniel's father, Alexander Rae II, was a high school history teacher and the head football coach at Massapequa High School. He died of lung cancer in 1983 at the age of 55.
By all accounts, Daniel was the troublemaker of the family and often received attention from his strict disciplinarian father. Daniel's older sister Beth remembers their trips as kids to the beach in the family station wagon.
"My dad would smoke a pipe out the window with one hand and steer with the other hand, and Daniel would always be the one in the back seat of the car that did something," she said. "It was Billy and Jane that he was picking on. And the pipe would go into the pocket, and the boys would call it the claw, because the claw would come down and grab your kneecap, whoever was doing it. It was always Daniel."
Daniel eventually followed in the acting footsteps of his older brother Alec. He has appeared in more than 70 movies, including "Paparazzi," "John Carpenter's Vampires," "Mulholland Falls," and "Trees Lounge." His television credits include four years as Detective Beau Felton on NBC's "Homicide: Life on the Street."
Shortly after landing his first solid acting job at the age of 29 on the sitcom "Sydney" in 1989, Daniel said he began using cocaine.
"I thought, 'My God, I'm gonna make $15,000 a week for 13 weeks.' What would I do with that kind of money? You know, I had never seen anything like that before in my life," he recalled. "I was now in a financial situation that I walk into the party of a very famous singer and there were all these people in this party and they all had these little glass pipes."
Daniel said they were smoking crack. "I kid you not, from the first time that I had smoked a hit of cocaine, I was in rehab six months later," he said. "It, it grabbed me so firmly and I was so out of control with it immediately."
He hit what some addicts call "their bottom" and said that his bottom "has continued to become lower and lower and lower."
In the 18 years since that first hit of cocaine, Daniel's life has been marred by failed public attempts at sobriety. His drug problem started making headlines following a very public overdose in New York City's historic Plaza Hotel in 1998, and he had another very public relapse in 2005 on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club," on which he erupted during filming. Daniel admitted to becoming addicted to pain medication and eventually left the show.
In the past year, his spiral has continued. On April 22, 2006, the Santa Monica Police Department arrested Daniel for possession of drug paraphernalia and being under the influence of a controlled substance. In July he crashed his Ford Thunderbird on Bundy Drive in Los Angeles.
On Nov. 11, 2006, he was arrested for allegedly stealing a white GMC Yukon SUV, and for suspicion of drug use. In the end, criminal charges for the stolen car were dismissed; however, it led to a violation in his probation and the threat of a prison sentence.
The actor became a regular in the tabloids, but for all the wrong reasons: "Cops Drag Baldwin Brother to Hospital in Drug Nightmare," "Daniel Baldwin in Theft, Drug Arrests" and "Daniel Baldwin's Run-In With Two Cars & the Cops."
With the prospect of jail time hanging over him, Daniel checked himself into Renaissance Malibu, one of the most exclusive rehabs in the country with a price tag of $50,000 a month (http://www.maliburecovery.com/). It is just one of 25 rehab facilities located on a 10-mile strip of sunny Malibu that have seen their fair share of stars, including Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears, who checked themselves into nearby Promises.
Daniel and his therapists agreed to allow "Primetime" to follow his progress from detox to release, and his investigation into the "wreckage of his past" — the pain he has caused to people in his life because of his addiction.
"Primetime" visited Daniel in rehab for the first time in early December 2006 when he had been sober for 12 days. At that point in his detox, he frequently wiped the sweat off his face during the interview. He explained that this was "not his first time to the barbeque," and that he was ready to share his experiences in the hope of helping other Americans struggling with any type of addiction. "I believe as a born-again Christian that once you've had a chance to drink from the well, it becomes your responsibility to replenish the well," he said. "So that those after you at least have an opportunity to take a sip."
Daniel also said that he was trying to use his family as a motivational factor in becoming sober. He was especially full of regret when he talked about not being present in his 10-year-old son's life. "It cost me a lot," he said. "My little son, Atticus, desperately needs his dad and I haven't been there for him…and that's sad."
Daniel's battle with addiction has put a strain on his family and his relationship with all of his children.
His first marriage was to his high school sweetheart Cheryl, with whom he had his daughter Kahlea. Four years ago she visited her father on a movie set in Toronto. She found her father's cocaine pipe and immediately left. Now 22 years old, she doesn't speak to her father.
His second marriage to actress Elizabeth Baldwin was short-lived, and resulted in 13-year-old daughter Alexandra, who today lives in London and also has no contact with her father.
Daniel also had a relationship with actress Isabella Hoffman, whom he met on the set of "Homicide: Life on the Street." They never married, but in 1997 Hoffman gave birth to Atticus.
Daniel hopes that he can get a hold of his disease and, eventually, rebuild his family relationships.
"You know, when I talk about the relationship with my father and the relationship with my kids, and I think, you know, how sad I can become sometimes because of what I've done," he said.
"I pray on my knees and I say, 'Please forgive me for what I've done, give me another chance,' and it's a hard pill to swallow sometimes. It really is. I struggle with it a lot."
In January 2007 Daniel showed "Primetime" his tidy room at Renaissance Malibu. He explained that he hasn't always been neat, but said, "I think change comes from more than just trying to stay sober. It's about being accountable and responsible and doing different things."
Daniel talked at length about his past, and being a Baldwin brother. He said it means "being an underdog. We're four guys from Long Island whose dad was a school teacher and we rolled the bones to do something."
He also talked about his "little love affair with drugs." "I was, you know, more articulate and more wonderful and more handsome and more this and more that. And, oh my God, I was a mess," he said. He says that he is "horrified" and "miserable" at having to face the pain he's caused.
He also has trouble talking about the pain he's kept inside from his own childhood. He said that he felt really cheated that he never really had a great understanding with his father because "there was wreckage with my dad, no doubt."
Daniel returned to New York in March 2007 for the premiere of "The Sopranos" in which he was featured in two episodes. He had graduated from Renaissance Malibu's 90-day program and decided he was ready to go out into the real world. He rented a condo near the facility and planned to visit frequently. He even has a new woman in his life: Jo, a former chef at Renaissance Malibu. He's not supposed to date during rehab and for the first year of sobriety, but the couple now live together. And Daniel's family has tentatively welcomed him back into their lives for the first time in many years; he said that he has been invited to a family reunion.
Daniel is still at odds with his two daughters, but his relationship with his son Atticus is getting better. He visits more often and Daniel is happy that he can have a great time with him, something he never had when he wasn't sober. "I want him to be well," Daniel said. "I love him, he's my son."
Daniel acknowledged that his relationship with his father may have played a role in where he is today. "My dad was a big guy who was heavy-handed. I seemed to be the one, because I believe I reminded him so much of himself, that he was the most heavy-handed with. … And I know he loved me, and I love my father, and I looked up to him and idolized him in many ways."
In the end, Daniel is hopeful about his future. He said that in a year "by the grace of God" he's going to be sober and he will have his "Golden Globe nomination or, you know, my son doing really, really well, and, the fact that I'm talking to both my daughters, and, you know, who knows?"
Still, Daniel admits that he will always be an addict. "The addict will always be there, forever. I am an addict. That's just the way it is."
If you or someone you know are struggling with addiction, visit the National Institute of Health's National Institute on Drug Abuse: http://www.drugabuse.gov/.