Having braved both the Mexican jungles and the eye-rolling disdain of Rolling Stone’s editors to write lines like, “I hear chain saws. I feel splatter. I am Sean’s dubitable paranoia,” actor Sean Penn made headlines last week with his interview of recently recaptured Mexican drug kingpin El Chapo. Now, Penn has sat down with 60 Minutes’ Charlie Rose to give an interview about the interview, and how it, in his terms, failed.
CBS aired a clip from the longer piece today on CBS This Morning, in which Penn discounts the idea that his meeting with El Chapo—a.k.a. Joaquín Guzmán—lead to the drug cartel mastermind’s recapture. “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, while also pointing out that he met with El Chapo months before his capture.
In Penn’s mind, the current focus on the connection between the two events isn’t just dangerous—what with the whole “suggesting he had something to do with a billionaire crime lord who controls hundreds of soldiers being dragged back to prison” thing—but distracting from his ultimate goals. “I thought, this was somebody who, upon whose interview, could I begin a conversation about the policy of the War On Drugs,” Penn told Rose.
But that’s not what happened, presumably because we’re all too busy focusing on the story’s more sensational aspects, like the involvement of Mexican soap opera star Kate Del Castillo, or the part where Penn gives his penis a look of warm regard because he’s worried someone might soon chop it off. (“Dick in hand,” he wrote, “I do consider it among my body parts vulnerable to the knives of irrational narco types, and take a fond last look, before tucking it back into my pants.”) As Penn presumably elaborates in the full interview—expected to air this Sunday on 60 Minutes—it’s a real shame that we’re all too focused on these petty, puerile details, instead of focusing on the real, throbbing meat of the story he was trying to tell.