Sean Penn sat down with 60 Minutes‘ Charlie Rose Sunday for the actor’s first interview since the publication of his Rolling Stone article about Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman. In the interview, Penn discussed his intentions for meeting with El Chapo, who was captured just days before the Rolling Stone article was published, and what he hoped to accomplish with the profile.
“I think the policy of the war on drugs, which so deeply affects all of our lives, seems not to change. It seems to be so unmovable,” Penn said. “I absolutely understand justice and the rule of law. And so I do what I call experiential journalism. I don’t have to be the one that reports on the alleged murders or the amount of narcotics that are brought in. I go and I spend time in the company of another human being, which everyone is.”
Penn also addressed accusations that the actor was almost sympathetic towards the drug lord in the article. “I was not present to report on the things people would like to see reported on. I was not present at murders. I was not present to see narcotics. I was not present to that,” Penn said. “What I was present for I wrote. I wrote that to use it as a pillar for an article about the policy of the war on drugs.”
Penn also denied the Mexican government’s claims that he and actress Kate del Castillo inadvertently contributed toward El Chapo’s capture – “They were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did,” Penn said – and that he recognizes that some “irrational” members of the cartel might seek retribution against him following El Chapo’s capture.
“They’ve been in this business a long time,” Penn said. “They’ve dealt with law enforcement issues for a long time. They’ve dealt with misinformation for a long time. There are irrational people. And so I can’t say for sure, you know, that there’s no risk.”