When Sean Penn's rambling, masterbatory interview with Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán was published in Rolling Stone, he was immediately lambasted for it. Penn later admitted the article "failed" not because it was terrible and terribly written, oh no, but because it did very little to educate readers about the drug trade (fair). Penn managed to get the interview in the first place thanks to actress Kate del Castillo, who was carrying on a weird text flirtation with the drug kingpin at the time, but according to early reports Castillo didn't know she was bringing the two together so Penn could pull a Hunter S. Thompson—she thought they were meeting to discuss the biopic El Chapo so badly wanted.
A piece about Del Castillo's motivations in the New Yorker confirms that the actress had no idea Penn was about to launch his career as a gonzo journalist when he and El Chapo met:
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 bullshit,” and that his mention of the story to El Chapo was the first she had heard of it. “This was not how I was expecting the night to be,” she told me. “But at the moment I thought, Maybe we can base the movie on this article.” For several hours, del Castillo served as translator. They discussed Hugo Chávez, the Mexican government, and Donald Trump. El Chapo seemed genuinely curious about whether the American public knew who he was. Penn told him that he would like to hang around for two more days. El Chapo replied that this was impossible. He suggested that they reconvene eight days later. Penn said that he would be happy to do so. He also offered to give their host final approval of the story. Of that decision, Wenner told the Times, “It was a small thing to do in exchange for what we got.
She also notes that Penn didn't take notes or record his conversation with El Chapo, which might be the reason we hear about his flatulence so regrettably often. Sabina Berman, a Mexican essayist and playwright who's written about El Chapo before, tore Penn apart for failing to ask a single pertinent question. "You’re talking to the biggest criminal in the world, and you ask him if he loves his mother," she said. "You don’t ask him, is the Army working with you? Who distributes the drugs in America? Who are your partners, or are you distributing them yourself? This was no interview. This was a publicity stunt."
A publicity stunt resulting in a steaming trash heap of an article, an actress under suspicion, and no hint of a biopic. The best thing to be said about this whole mess is that it lead to El Chapo's recapture.