Mexican actress Kate del Castillo opens up about El Chapo-Sean Penn meeting

Kate del Castillo, the Mexican actress who helped orchestrate a meeting between actor Sean Penn and drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, is opening up about the strange meeting of minds in Mexico.

The telenovela and film star, who played a drug trafficker on Telemundo’s “La Reina del Sur,” recounted the meeting in a New Yorker interview and sat down with ABC’s Diane Sawyer for her first on-air interview, airing Friday night on “20/20.”

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Del Castillo, in a preview of the interview broadcast on Friday’s “Good Morning America,” credits her addiction to risk and adrenaline for getting tangled up with Guzman.

“I don’t think it was necessarily me, Kate del Castillo. He probably had a crush on [my character] Teresa Mendoza. We will have to ask him. Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe [he’s] an admirer,” the actress said.

Del Castillo, who has attempted to keep a low profile since Guzman’s recapture in January, has seen her conversations with the drug lord leaked to the Mexican media and is currently being investigated by Mexican authorities for possible money laundering.


The New Yorker interview includes the actress’ in-depth account of the events during and surrounding the meeting, framing the leader of the Sinaloa cartel as a doting admirer who courted her and gave her the rights to make a film about his life. Penn is portrayed in the interview as an opportunist who she had trusted to help her make the film but deceived her to write his Rolling Stone article about Guzman.

The actress said she brought Penn on to her project because she thought it stood a better chance of getting made if a major figure in American movies was attached to it.

Rolling Stone, of course, published the article earlier than expected in January when the Mexican government announced Guzman’s recapture.

Del Castillo told Sawyer that she was angry with the Oscar winner and still hurt because she believed his intentions to have her movie made were genuine.

“I think he was never interested in the movie,” she told Sawyer. “I’m hurt, but again I’m angry at myself because I believe in people and I didn’t know Sean Penn.”

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“The 33" star told the magazine that when she and Penn finally came face to face with the cartel leader on a ranch near Mazatlan, Penn told the drug lord that he was there to write a story for Rolling Stone and that he would like to do a series of interviews with him. Del Castillo, who had been asked to translate for the actor, claims that was the first she heard of Penn’s article and was taken aback when she realized he wasn’t there to help her with the movie.

Penn has a very different story of what happened, Sawyer said. Indeed, he released a statement claiming that Del Castillo was made aware of his intentions when they first met -- a claim she refutes wholeheartedly.

In both the New Yorker and “20/20" interviews, Del Castillo recalled good intentions surrounding the meeting and revealed what she told Guzman when she was alone with him.

“My heart started pounding,” she told Sawyer, as she worked up the courage to be straight with the drug lord. “If I say it this might be my last words: I said, ‘Amigo, don’t forget what I said on my tweet originally. You’re a powerful man you can do something good.’ I was literally dying inside and I thought if he gets mad I don’t know what I’m going to do and I thought I was going to faint.”

That controversial tweet, which she posted in January 2012 and got the ball rolling on their relationship, implored Guzman to start “trafficking with the good” and “with love” so he could be “the hero of heroes.”

Follow me on Twitter @NardineSaad.