Sean Penn said he was just as surprised as anyone that he landed an interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera — a.k.a. “El Chapo.”
“I was baffled by his will to see us,” Penn said Sunday night on “60 Minutes,” during a sit-down interview about his infamous Rolling Stone article on El Chapo.
The actor also criticized the U.S. war on drugs during his one-on-one with CBS newscaster Charlie Rose.
“I think the policy of the war on drugs, which so deeply affects all of our lives… seems to be so unmovable,” he said.
Mexican authorities have previously indicated that Penn’s interview helped officials track down El Chapo.
Rose asked Penn if he believed Mexico was exaggerating his role in the capture: “Do you believe that the Mexican government released this in part because they want to see you blamed and to put you at risk?” Penn’s answer — “Yes.” The actor also insisted that he is not fearful for his life.
Pressed by Rose, he said, “There are irrational people, so I can’t say for sure that there is no risk.”
Penn also defended charges that his Rolling Stone article was self indulgent and failed to meet journalistic standards.
“I do what I call ‘experiential journalism,'” he said. “I don’t have to be the one who reports on the alleged murders or the amount of narcotics brought in. I go and spend time with another human being, which everyone is.”
He added, “I’m really sad about the state of journalism in our country.”
Penn met with El Chapo for seven hours back in October. The Oscar winner was barred from using a pen, paper or any type of recording devices during the meeting.
The drug lord later answered additional questions that were sent to him via BlackBerry Messenger, also known as BBM. Rolling Stone published the 10,000-word story on Jan. 9, one day after El Chapo was recaptured by Mexican authorities.
In the account of their interview, which occurred while the drug lord was still a fugitive from justice, El Chapo revealed the full details of his drug operation, as well as his escape from prison last summer.
Mexican actress Kate del Castillo helped arrange the interview between Penn and El Chapo. In Penn’s article, he wrote that El Chapo wanted del Catillo’s assistance in adapting his personal story for a movie.
Mexican attorney general Arely Gomez said that “discovering Guzman’s intention to have a biographic film made” was important to the cartel king’s capture. “He contacted actresses and producers, which was part of one line of investigation.”
El Chapo disappeared from Mexico’s highest security prison last summer, escaping via a mile-long tunnel that some said cost $1 million to build. Penn wrote in the article that the drug lord hired German engineers to build the tunnel.
Rose revealed last week at the TCA winter press tour that he had just met with Penn in Los Angeles to lay the groundwork for the “60 Minutes” interview.