The series details the clandestine meeting that the telenovela star arranged in 2015 between actor Sean Penn and Sinaloa drug cartel boss Joaquin Guzman, aka El Chapo, who is now incarcerated in the U.S. But after previewing the three-part series “The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story,” Penn was apparently none too pleased.
“Mr. Penn just saw it and hopes to have the opportunity to participate; there are profound inaccuracies and presumptions presented in Kate’s story,” Penn’s spokeswoman said in a statement to Variety. It’s still unclear if the release of the series will be delayed as a result of Penn’s concerns. Netflix declined to comment on the flap.
There is conflicting information about whether producers contacted Penn to participate in the series. David Broome, the creator and co-executive producer for 25/7 Productions, said in an earlier interview that he reached out multiple times to Penn but got no response.
Co-produced with Kate del Castillo Prods., “The Day I Met El Chapo” relates the circumstances that led to Del Castillo and Penn’s extraordinary encounter with the infamous fugitive, using never-before-seen footage and interviews with members of del Castillo’s family and El Chapo’s lawyer, who was instrumental in setting up the rendezvous.
Penn detailed his secret visit in Rolling Stone magazine in January 2016, which included an exclusive interview with Guzman, who has cultivated a Robin Hood-esque persona in his native country. Not long after Penn and del Castillo’s visit, Mexican authorities captured El Chapo. Mexico’s attorney general claimed that the actors’ visit helped them find the fugitive whose two escapes — the second via an extraordinarily engineered tunnel — from local maximum-security prisons had deeply embarrassed the Mexican government.
For del Castillo, the series “will dive into how it began, why I pursued accepting the rights to the life story of one of the most controversial Narco figures and what happened after.”
Del Castillo told Variety she brought Penn and two producers to El Chapo to advance her film project. She maintains she was not aware that Penn had plans to interview El Chapo until he showed the cartel leader a letter from Rolling Stone’s editor authorizing the interview. Penn disputes this timeline of events.
“He and his two producer friends had planned this beforehand and kept me out of the loop; I didn’t like it,” she said. “They had no intention of making the movie.”
After the Penn-El Chapo story made international headlines, del Castillo has since starred in Netflix series “Ingobernable” (“Ungovernable”), which has been renewed for a second season. She has been active in features — starring in the dark comedy “Nina” alongside Mary Elizabeth Winstead and Common for director Eva Vives (“Join the Club,” “Raising Victor Vargas”). Del Castillo at present is rehearsing a biographical cabaret show, and she has two movies in development at her production banner.
Broome said “Day I Met El Chapo” was a chance to delve into the “craziest life imitating art saga” he’d ever heard. “The series is broken into three parts: the first episode details what took place before the meeting, that is, the build-up to it, while the second episode deals with the actual meeting with El Chapo and the third centers on the fall-out,” he said.
The series aims to put the meeting in context against the backdrop of Mexican culture and media and the workings of the criminal cartels themselves.
Broome’s past credits include a docu-series about Brazilian bull riders, “Fearless,” and extreme competition series “Ultimate Beastmaster,” both on Netflix. Broome is currently working on the second season of “Ultimate Beastmaster,” among other projects.
Broome, Yong Yam, and del Castillo serve as executive producers of “Day I Met El Chapo.” Carlos Armella (“Tierra y Pan,” “Toro Negro”) directed the series.