Sean Penn has opened up about his meeting with drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman in an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose.
In an excerpt of the interview that aired on CBS This Morning, Penn said that the idea that he helped with El Chapo’s capture is a “myth” and that it wasn’t as if he and his team were able to find El Chapo before the authorities did.
“There is this myth about the visit that we made, my colleagues and I with El Chapo, that it was — as the Attorney General of Mexico is quoted — ‘essential’ to his capture,” Penn told Rose. “We had met with him many weeks earlier … on October 2nd, in a place nowhere near where he was captured.”
The actor added: “We know that the Mexican government … they were clearly very humiliated by the notion that someone found him before they did. Well, nobody found him before they did. We’re not smarter than the DEA or the Mexican intelligence. We had a contact upon which we were able to facilitate an invitation.”
Penn said he thinks the Mexican government released information about his meeting with El Chapo in part because they want him blamed and targeted by the cartel, but Penn said he’s not afraid for his life.
Penn also explained that he wanted to meet with El Chapo to “begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs.”
“This is somebody who — upon whose interview could I begin a conversation about the policy of the war on drugs. That was my simple idea,” Penn said.
“We’re going to put all our focus — forget about blame — we’re going to put all our focus, all our energy, all our billions of dollars on the ‘bad guy,’ and what happens? You get another death the next day the same way,” Penn added, elaborating on his views on the war on drugs.
Now that the discussion around the interview is about the role Penn played in El Chapo’s capture, how he was able to get access to the drug lord and other questions about legal issues and journalistic ethics, Penn feels that he wasn’t able to accomplish his goal.
He told Rose he has a “terrible regret” about the interview.
“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,” the actor said. “My article has failed.”
Penn’s sit-down with Rose is his first TV interview. Rose explained at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour on Tuesday that he would be interviewing Penn during his trip to California but he didn’t know when the interview would occur.
The two sat down on Thursday night in Santa Monica.
Rose’s full interview with Penn is set to air on Sunday’s 60 Minutes. Watch the excerpt that aired on CBS This Morning below.