Here's the Most Surprising Part of Sean Penn's El Chapo Interview That Everyone Missed

That actor Sean Penn was able to locate escaped drug kingpin Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzmán, and to also get the outlaw to agree to be interviewed could be taken for fiction if the whole story and video footage weren't then made widely available via Rolling Stone's Saturday feature. Yet despite the wildness of the development in the case of the Mexican drug lord, Penn's investigative journalistic successes aren't the most surprising element of the story. 

The real mind-bending aspect of the whole feature is the way in which the interview rips down a proverbial facade erected around Guzmán. 

The resulting reveal is a gentler, more agreeable man than one might expect from one of the world's most notorious criminals. In some ways, Penn's interview of Guzmán paints the picture of a family man capable of love and affection, albeit a picture constructed by Guzmán himself. In other words, Guzmán doesn't seem to think he's the villain everyone makes him out to be — just a guy doing what he has to do to get by. 

Read more:
° Sean Penn Interviews El Chapo for 'Rolling Stone' — And Is Very Sean Penn About It
° El Chapo Was Injured and Nearly Caught. Here's the Latest Update on His Escape

CNN names Guzmán as the leader of the Sinaloa drug cartel, which the network says is "widely believed" to distribute more heroin and cocaine to the U.S. than any other cartel. According to the BCC, the Sinaloa cartel routinely carries out "pitiless violence," the brutality of which some argue Guzmán is culpable.

Yet, in the Penn interview, Mexico's most wanted man is nothing like the violent ringleader many might imagine. 

His relationship with his mother? "Perfect," Guzmán said in the interview. "Very well," one of "respect, affection and love." 

Does he think of himself as a violent man? "No, sir." Well, if not violent, what about prone to violence? "All I do is defend myself, nothing more. But do I start trouble? Never." And when asked about his visions for the future, Guzmán said all he dreams of is his freedom, and, in his own words, "to live with my family the days God gives me."

"I can say it's normal that people have mixed feelings because some people know me and others don't," Guzmán said in the Rolling Stone piece. "That is the reason I say it is normal. Because those who do not know me can have their doubts about saying if, in this case, I'm a good person or not."

Guzmán made his first escape from prison in 2001, and his second jailbreak on July 11, 2015, through a hole in a shower stall at Altiplano Federal Prison. 

On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced in a tweet that Guzmán had been captured. "Mission accomplished: we have him," Nieto said in the tweet. "I want to inform the Mexican people that Joaquín Guzmán Loera has been arrested."


How likely are you to make Mic your go-to news source?

Liz Rowley

Liz is a staff writer at Mic, covering breaking news. She is based in New York and can be reached at lrowley@mic.com.

MORE FROM

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.

Movement for Black Lives activists disrupt Minneapolis Pride to protest Philando Castile verdict

Protesters reportedly held signs with messages like "No KKKops at Pride."

Protesters reportedly arrested near NYC's Stonewall Inn, Pride March endpoint

The reason for the arrests were not immediately known.

Marchers arrested in Istanbul as Pride parade continues despite cancellation

The organizers' decision to move forward with the previously cancelled march led to clashes with police.

Car slams into Eid celebrants in UK, injuring 6; police say terrorism isn't suspected

Police say they believe an Eid celebrant was behind the wheel of the car that injured six outside a mosque.

Oil truck explodes in Pakistan, killing at least 153

The deadly fire broke out as residents rushed to collect the leaking oil from the overturned tanker.

Will Justice Anthony Kennedy retire at end of Supreme Court term? Here's what we know.

Rumors that the 80-year-old swing justice may leave the bench are fueling fear of a second Trump pick on the nation's high court.