LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Sean Penn didn’t attend Sunday evening’s Golden Globes but he was very much present.
He’s created a lot of buzz in and around Hollywood following the revelation Saturday that he met with notorious drug lord Joaquin Guzman, better known as El Chapo, several months ago in the jungle.
El Chapo was a wanted fugitive and prison escapee at the time of the interview. He was re-arrested Thursday after being on the lam for six months. El Chapo escaped prison — for the second time — using an elaborate tunnel dug to his shower stall. Officials believe the tunnel was a year in the making.
Penn’s Rolling Stone interview with El Chapo ran online Saturday.
Backstage at the Globes, “The Martian” star Matt Damon defended Penn. He said seeking out interviews with people, even drug lords, is what actors do to prepare for a role.
The interview with Chapo, intermediated by Kate del Castillo, a well-known Mexican soap actress, is not going over well with the entire Hollywood community, however.
Globes host Ricky Gervais didn’t waste any time making a Penn joke. He joked that if his hosting duties didn’t go over well, he was prepared to go into hiding. And deep into the jungle.
“So deep, not even Sean Penn will find me.” A pause and then, “Snitch.”
The clandestine meeting between Penn and El Chapo had enough drama and twists and turns befitting a soap opera.
On Twitter, many took to social media questioning Penn’s motives. Many called for his arrest in what they called aiding and abetting a drug king lord and prison escapee.
CBS2 and KCAL9 Legal Analyst Steve Meister thinks it would be hard to prove Penn harbored a fugitive.
“He was engaging in activity protected by the first amendment,” said Meister, “and his conduct does not rise to the level of harboring a fugitive under federal law.”
Meister also said Penn was working as a journalist for Rolling Stone, not playing a reporter. Penn met El Chapo deep in the jungle. He later asked him a lot of questions via video messaging.
El Chapo, after years of denials, actually admitted to being one of the world’s biggest suppliers of illegal
Mexican authorities said the meeting between the actor and the drug lord helped tip them off to El Chapo’s whereabouts.
Now authorities have said they want to interview Penn and Meister believes the Sinaloa cartel may want to as well.
“I think he should worry about the Sinaloa cartel thinking his activity somehow tipped off authorities,” Meister said.