UPDATED: Sean Penn is turning up the heat on Netflix over the docu series on his infamous 2015 meeting with Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman.
Penn is at odds with actress Kate del Castillo over her retelling of the story in “The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story,” which is set to bow Friday. The docu reportedly suggests that Penn alerted U.S. authorities to the fugitive drug lord’s location after Del Castillo arranged a meeting for the two in September 2015. Guzman was arrested about three months after the meeting and is now serving time in the U.S.
Penn spokesman Mark Fabiani on Thursday accused del Castillo of fabricating elements of the story to gain attention for the series. Penn’s retention of Fabiani, known for his crisis PR work, suggests the actor is girding for a PR battle.
TMZ reported Thursday that Penn’s lawyers have implored Netflix to “at the very least, eliminate any references to their client contacting (the Justice Department) prior to meeting Chapo.”
“It is reprehensible that, in their ongoing, relentless efforts to gain additional attention and publicity, Ms. del Castillo and her team (who have zero firsthand knowledge) have sought to create this profoundly false, foolish, and reckless narrative,” Fabiani said. “The notion that Mr. Penn or anyone on his behalf alerted DOJ to the trip is a complete fabrication and bald-faced lie. It never happened, nor would there have been any reason for it to have happened.”
After previewing the series earlier this month, Penn told Variety through a spokeswoman: “Mr. Penn just saw it and hopes to have the opportunity to participate; there are profound inaccuracies and presumptions presented in Kate’s story.”
However, “El Chapo” co-executive producer David Broome, told Variety that he had reached out multiple times to Penn to invite his participation but got no response.
In a statement on Thursday, Netflix said, “Sean Penn was given the opportunity on multiple occasions to participate in ‘The Day I Met El Chapo’ and did not do so. The events surrounding the now-infamous meeting have been well covered, including by Penn himself in Rolling Stone and his many public comments since. The only new ground we’re breaking with this series is to give Kate a chance to finally tell her side of this stranger-than-fiction story.”
At this late hour, it’s unclear if the series will be delayed or modified as a result of Penn’s objections.