Mexican actress Kate del Castillo has spoken out about her role in Sean Penn’s infamous story for Rolling Stone about meeting Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo (Joaquin Guzman).
Del Castillo said that El Chapo only approved a draft version of Sean Penn’s article for Rolling Stone. She also challenged three claims in the final article.
- Penn said del Castillo gave her address to El Chapo so he could send flowers. She said that she never gave her address but Penn told The New Yorker his version is correct.
- Penn said that during the visit to El Chapo they went through a military checkpoint and two soldiers let them go through after seeing El Chapo’s son. Del Castillo and the two producers accompanying them say they never went through a military checkpoint or saw soldiers.
- Del Castillo said she didn’t know about his plans to report on the meeting until they were with El Chapo and Penn asked her to translate to the drug kingpin about his story. This disputes what Penn previously said, which was that he told del Castillo about the article “from our first meeting.” The producers gave conflicting stories about when Penn first mentioned the Rolling Stone article. They did, however, agree that it was in Guadalajara after the four had flown to Mexico but before they took a second flight and car trip to meet El Chapo. “Del Castillo says that Penn’s claim that he told her about his idea for an article at their first meeting is ‘total and complete bulls**t,’ and that his mention of the story to El Chapo was the first she had heard of it,” the New Yorker reported.
How did the whole meeting with Penn and El Chapo come to be? According to the New Yorker‘s article, following del Castillo’s sympathetic tweet toward El Chapo, the drug kingpin’s lawyer contacted her in 2014 about making a movie on El Chapo’s life. When she met with two of El Chapo’s lawyers in Mexico, they said drug lord wanted to give her the rights to his life story.
“On January 9, 2015, Guzmán signed over his story rights to Kate del Castillo, for a project to be co-produced by” two Argentine producers. One of these producers told Sean Penn, who then asked for a meeting with del Castillo. When Penn met del Castillo, he asked about the possibility of meeting El Chapo.
El Chapo texted del Castillo about meeting and she was going to bring Penn, who El Chapo didn’t know about, and the two Argentine producers. Del Castillo told the New Yorker she thought Penn was interested in the movie but didn’t know he was working for Rolling Stone.
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On the plane to Mexico were del Castillo, Penn and the two Argentine producers, Fernando Sulichin and José Ibáñez, the New Yorker reported, with Penn “carrying a letter of assignment from Wenner, saying that Penn, Sulichin, and Ibáñez would be the story’s authors. (Del Castillo says that she did not know about the letter.)”
According to the New Yorker, Penn “offered to give their host final approval of the story.” But, Penn only sent El Chapo, through del Castillo, a draft of his article, which El Chapo approved — never the final article, the New Yorker said. Penn showed del Castillo his final article on his phone in early January, the New Yorker article said, but she didn’t read the whole thing.
When asked about del Castillo’s claims, Penn told the Associated Press that “I stand by my piece” and “I think Kate would be happier to separate herself from recollections that inflame the Mexican government at this point.”
iMediaEthics is writing to Rolling Stone for comment. Read the whole New Yorker article here.