On Friday, the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was captured by Mexican authorities after six months on the lam. Many more details have emerged, but this is an end to a chapter of urban legends surrounding the Sinaloa cartel kingpin. A few months ago, El Chapo narrowly avoided recapture due to a pet monkey (of all things), but now it looks like his actual undoing arrived courtesy of a dark horse — Sean Penn.
Very recently, Penn conducted a secret interview with El Chapo in the mountains of Sinaloa. The piece was conducted by Rolling Stone and publicized by the New York Times for its groundbreaking nature. The meeting was brokered by prominent Mexican actress Kate del Castillo, who accompanied Penn to meet El Chapo.
The setup of this interview is not quite as remarkable as the piece itself, but the motivations of both parties are notable. As it turns out (and as the New York Times reported slightly in advance), El Chapo had designs on Hollywood stardom. The drug lord desired a biopic for years and “got the movie ball rolling” shortly after his initial 2014 prison break. El Chapo hunted for producers and actresses to frame his life as a rags-to-riches story. He was dismayed when the project never took off. El Chapo went back to prison and made his famous tunnel escape in July 2015.