Sean Penn Breaks His Silence on Controversial Interview With El Chapo

“My article failed–let me be clear: my article has failed.”

Sean Penn Breaks His Silence on Controversial Interview With El Chapo
A man reads an article about drug lord Joaquin Guzman, aka “El Chapo“, showing a picture of him (R) and US actor Sean Penn, on the website of Rolling Stone magazine, in Mexico City, on January 10, 2016. [Photo: Alfredo Estrella, AFP, Getty Images]

In the wake of his highly controversial interview with Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, Sean Penn is speaking out on 60 Minutes, saying, “my article has failed.”


Back in early October, Penn secretly met with then-fugitive El Chapo in Mexico for an exclusive Rolling Stone interview that was published January 9, the day after El Chapo was re-captured by Mexican authorities. However, what was meant to underscore the U.S.’s flaws in its War on Drugs has turned into a legal and ethical disaster. It’s unlikely Penn will face charges for concealing a fugitive, but he could be subpoenaed or called in for questioning by U.S. or Mexican investigators.

But it seems Penn isn’t so much concerned with dealing with the authorities as he is with how the dialogue around the conversation he was attempting to spark has shifted. In an excerpt from an upcoming interview with Charlie Rose on 60 Minutes, Penn explains his intention for the article and debunks a few theories:

Penn’s interview did not lead to El Chapo’s re-capture:

“There is this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I, with El Chapo that it was, as the attorney general in Mexico is quoted ‘essential to his capture’–we had met with him many week earlier…in a place nowhere near where he was captured.”

Penn believes the Mexican government has intentionally put his life at risk:

Charlie Rose: Do you believe that the Mexican government released this, in part, because they wanted to see you blamed and to put you at risk?

Penn: Yes.

Rose: They wanted to encourage the cartel to put you in their crosshairs?


Penn: Yes

Rose: Are you fearful for your life?

Penn: No.

Penn’s true intention for the Rolling Stone interview:

“This is somebody upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the War on Drugs–that was my simple idea…I have terrible regret. 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 on the War on Drugs.”

Penn’s full interview on 60 Minutes airs Sunday on CBS.


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KC covers entertainment and pop culture for Fast Company. Previously, KC was part of the Emmy Award-winning team at "Good Morning America" where he was the social media producer.