Sean Penn’s lawyers have warned that Netflix’s new El Chapo documentary could put the actor in danger, by implying that he was involved in the capture of one of the world’s most wanted men.
The Mexican druglord, whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, hit the headlines at the start of 2016, when Sean Penn published a rare interview with Mr. Guzmán in Rolling Stone magazine. Based around a string of conversations between the pair in 2015, the article was published shortly after Guzmán was captured by the authorities (he had recently escaped from prison for the second time).
Their meeting in October was facilitated by Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, whose involvement has now become the focus of Netflix’s new documentary. The Day I Met El Chapo, a three-part series, was released on the streaming service this weekend, and tells Kate’s side of the story using never-before-seen footage and exclusive details of what led to the infamous encounter.
Penn did not participate in the Netflix documentary, but his lawyers have now warned Netflix that the series could put him in danger, by implying that he helped the authorities capture El Chapo.
Theodore J Boutrous Jr, representing Penn, warned the streaming service in an email seen by the New York Times that “blood will be on their hands if this film causes bodily harm” to Penn.
“It is reprehensible that, in their ongoing, relentless efforts to gain additional attention and publicity, Ms. del Castillo and her team (who have zero firsthand knowledge) have sought to create this profoundly false, foolish, and reckless narrative,” Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for the actor, told the publication. “The notion that Mr. Penn or anyone on his behalf alerted D.O.J. to the trip is a complete fabrication and baldfaced lie. It never happened, nor would there have been any reason for it to have happened.”
David Broome, who produced the series, commented: “We never say in this documentary that Sean Penn is in cahoots with the D.O.J.”
Mr. Broome and Ms. del Castillo began collaborating on the project last year, telling the New York Times that they tried to get Penn to participate but had no response.
One of the actor’s lawyers, Mathew Rosengart, then reportedly requested in September that Penn be able to see the film. Broome told the Times that Penn then said he wanted to be interviewed and that the series should be altered.
“They tried to put on pressure and demand we change the documentary,” Broome explained.
Netflix has now issued a statement on the matter: “Penn was given the opportunity on multiple occasions to participate in The Day I Met El Chapo and did not do so. The events surrounding the now-infamous meeting have been well covered, including by Penn himself in Rolling Stone and his many public comments since. The only new ground we’re breaking with this series is to give Kate a chance to finally tell her side of this stranger-than-fiction story.”
The Day I Met El Chapo is available to stream on Netflix now.