Actor Sean Penn believes that his interview with Joaquín Archivaldo Guzmán Loera, also known as drug kingpin “El Chapo,” failed in its intent.
“My article failed,” Penn told 60 Minutes’ co-host Charlie Rose, according to CBS News.
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Penn commented that he was an “experiential journalist,” writing about his experiences rather than about the news itself.
According to reports, Penn and Rolling Stone magazine also gave El Chapo story approval, a move that Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner said was “a small price to pay.”
In saying “my interview failed,” Penn said that the intent for his article that he wrote for Rolling Stone was to start a discussion regarding the current policy on the war on drugs, and he said he did not believe that the outcome of the article was what he wanted.
“I have a regret that the entire discussion about this article ignores its purpose, which was to try to contribute to this discussion about the policy in the War on Drugs,” Penn said.
Part of the problem is that the Attorney General of Mexico was quoted as saying that Penn was “essential” to El Chapo’s capture, which Penn says is an erroneous statement. In reality, while the article — the article that Penn said failed — was published the day after Guzman’s capture, Penn maintains that he had nothing to do with Guzman’s capture.
The actor told Rose that he believed the Mexican authorities released the information that Penn was somehow involved in Guzman’s capture so that the drug cartel would blame him and therefore take some of the focus off of the cartel.
However, what appears to be the case is that “El Chapo” was unclear as to who Penn actually was. The drug lord was actually more attracted to the idea of meeting with Kate del Castillo, a Mexican actress who had been corresponding with him for some time. In fact, the New York Times reports that “El Chapo” had asked his lawyer, “What’s the name of this actor again?” when he said a Mexican television star approached him about being interviewed by Penn.
While Penn might say, “My interview failed,” when it comes to the intent of his article with “El Chapo” Guzman, he made it clear during the Rolling Stone piece that he was fascinated by the potential inconsistencies that might exist with how “El Chapo” is conveyed by the government and the media.
“As an American citizen, I’m drawn to explore what may be inconsistent with the portrayals our government and media brand upon their declared enemies,” he admitted.
To be sure, the drug lord sounds quite formal and polite during his interview with Penn, in spite of the deadly behaviors that he or his associates have exhibited in the past. Penn also admitted to a certain realization about just how powerful “El Chapo” or any of his associates actually were.
“As it seems we are at the entrance of Oz, the highest peak visibly within reach, we arrive at a military checkpoint,” he noted during his Rolling Stone piece. “Two uniformed government soldiers, weapons at the ready, approach our vehicle. Alfredo lowers his passenger window; the soldiers back away, looking embarrassed, and wave us through. Wow. So it is, the power of a Guzman face. And the corruption of an institution. Did this mean we were nearing the man?”
Guzman, though, was incredibly up front about his involvement in the range of drug enterprises open to him.
“I supply more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world,” he said during his seven-hour sit down with Penn. “I have a fleet of submarines, airplanes, trucks and boats.”
With that simple insight into one of the most powerful — and now re-captured — drug entrepreneurs globally, it’s a curious thing that Sean Penn can say, “My article failed.”
[Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images]