A producer for the documentary ‘The Day I Met El Chapo’ says if Sean Penn is harmed it will be his own fault after the actor tried to stop it airing over fears for his safety.
David Broome, who worked with Mexican actress Kate del Castillo to put together the three-part Netflix series, says they tried to get Penn’s input several times leading up to the series on their encounter with a then fugitive Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman, without response, until just two weeks before it aired.
‘There is nothing in this documentary that is going to be the cause of Sean being in any kind of harm’s way,’ he said. Broome ominously adds: ‘If Sean Penn is in any harm’s way at all, it wouldn’t be because of this documentary.’
If anyone would be at fault in the event that Penn was harmed, Broome says, it would lay squarely on Penn: ‘It would be his own actions.’
All together: This was last time the public would see Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman (center) as a free man. Kate del Castillo (right) was preparing to run a film about his life, but Sean Penn (left) had plans for a Rolling Stone interview
Producer David Broome (left) says that if Penn does eventually get harmed it is because of his own actions, and nothing to do with the documentary about El Chapo. Right, a grab from the series with Kate del Castillo
‘We tried several attempts to get Sean and have him participate. First, I asked Netflix to reach out to his agents. There were several calls made over several weeks. I also called his house and I spoke to his assistant and I gave all the details. I never got a single response,’ Broome tells Entertainment Weekly of the series focusing on the now captured cartel leader.
‘If you’re Sean Penn and you’re so concerned about your safety and you hear I’m producing a documentary for Netflix with Kate del Castillo… are you going to not pick up the phone and call me back?
‘We got nothing back from him. Then, when we were two weeks from launching the series, we get a call from his agents saying, ”Sean must see this documentary… must.” And I said, ”He can see it on October 20 when it comes out.”
Broome explains there’s no quick edits with a Netflix series. It’s a different beast than edits for a show on a TV network, but they eventually sent it to him in advance out of consideration.
The Mexican authorities had del Castillo and Penn under surveillance as soon as they landed in Mexico
El Chapo was captured just days before the Rolling Stone interview came out. He is seen here in a photo from 2016 being transported by authorities
‘So I said: ”There’s really no reason why he should see it now, but if we’re just giving it to him out of courtesy and respect, okay, fine.” So Sean went and he watched it with his lawyer. And that’s when it all started.’
At the crux of the issue is how Penn has viewed the sources in the documentary.
He says there are suggestions by the sources that he had alerted the Department of Justice that he was traveling to a secret location in Mexico to interview El Chapo.
‘I know what’s in the doc. Nowhere do we say that Sean Penn was in cahoots, cooperating, working for, or with, the D.O.J. — or anyone else in the United States government prior to going down there,’ Broome says to EW.
‘Kate’s criminal lawyer Harland Braun says in his opinion that Sean Penn would have told his attorney — who is a former federal prosecutor — that they were going down there. His attorney would have told someone at the United States government. Then the United States government would have told somebody in the Mexican government.’
‘What Harland was trying to say is: If you’re Sean Penn and you’re going to to see El Chapo in Mexico, would you just get on a plane going seven hours into the middle of the jungle and not tell anyone? Not make sure that you are protected, at the very least, by journalistic immunity?’ questions Broome.
‘That’s different than saying Sean Penn was in cahoots with the D.O.J. That was their big concern. But really what I think is Sean was concerned he was going to look like a jerk.
‘There were things that Kate said he did that put her life in jeopardy and he comes off looking bad based on things she said about him,’ Broome adds to Entertainment Weekly.
In the documentary, del Castillo claims that Penn never told her about his desire to do an interview for Rolling Stone magazine, and that it was a request Penn put out during their meeting with Guzman deep in the jungles of Mexico.
It is also suggested in the series that Penn’s repeated insistence in getting more from El Chapo for the Rolling Stone article could have tripped the cartel leader up beyond any risks he already made toward his eventual capture from meeting del Castillo and Penn in the first place.