In a stranger than fiction story that blew many minds – ours included – Rolling Stone has published an interview with Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán conducted by none other than actor Sean Penn. The interview, which took place secretly this fall just a few months before the infamous drug lord would be recaptured by Mexican authorities, is thought to be the first one he has has given in decades. But this bizarre, controversial twist (why Sean Penn? WTF is even happening?) is only the latest in the ongoing, surreal news saga surrounding El Chapo.
What is perhaps the biggest story here is Mexican actress Kate del Castillo’s involvement.
On Saturday afternoon, Variety reported that El Chapo was in talks with film producers to develop a biopic, and it was these negotiations that actually led authorities to locate and recapture him. As it turns out, the producers in talks with Guzmán were from Kate del Castillo’s production company. In his Rolling Stone piece, Sean Penn reveals that the actress was first contacted by Guzmán’s lawyers in 2012, after she wrote a controversial open letter to the drug lord on Twitter. El Chapo wanted to send her flowers in gratitude.
Two years later, Guzmán reached out to Castillo via his lawyer again, this time because he wanted to make a movie about the story of his life, and he only trusted Kate to do it. As a reminder, Kate del Castillo herself is perhaps most famous for playing a drug kingpin in the wildly popular 2011 telenovela La Reina del Sur (which is getting adapted into an English version for USA network soon). THERE ARE SO MANY LEVELS TO THIS INSANE STORY. And so many people who stand to profit.
According to Sean Penn, “the imprisoned drug lord and the actress began to correspond in handwritten letters and BBM messages.” It was Kate who brokered the connection between El Chapo and Penn that allowed for this interview – at one point in his piece, Penn calls her “the ticket to El Chapo’s trust.” A short clip of a video portion of the interview, which appears in the Rolling Stone piece, notes that Kate owns the rights to the footage.
— Armando Talamantes (@TalamantesCNN) January 10, 2016
In fact, the actors’ financial relationship to one another and this whole story are a little sus. Later in the piece, Penn also manages to sneak a plug in for Kate’s tequila brand. “The flight had been just bumpy enough that each of us had taken a few swigs off a bottle of Honor tequila, a new brand that Kate is marketing,” he writes. Meanwhile, Castillo is set to play Mexico’s first lady in the Netflix show Ingobernable, debuting later this year.
ABC News reports that The Mexican government is investigating them both. This is developing.
Read the Rolling Stone interview, which was conducted over seven hours, here.