Kate Del Castillo's 20/20 Interview

Kate Del Castillo chose Diane Sawyer and 20/20 for her first TV interview about her trip to Mexico with Sean Penn to meet El Chapo and the movie he entrusted to her to make about his life. (Background here and here.) As a long time fan of Del Castillo's acting, I found it very compelling.

Shorter version: She's sorry, but not for what you might think. She's still planning on making her movie about the life of El Chapo (it won't be a romantic comedy.) She's a little angry at Sean Penn. [More...]

The interview is at Kate's home in Los Angeles. She has lived in the U.S. for several years (in a pretty spectacular home) and became a U.S. citizen last year. Her father is a well respected Mexican actor.

While the New Yorker published a long article about Sean Penn and Kate del Castillo's differing versions of their meeting with El Chapo in which the author interviewed Del Castillo over three days at her home, the 20/20 interview lets us watch and hear her in her own words. (Del Castillo also wrote and published a long version of what happened in a Mexican newspaper last Sunday (use Google translate.)

Sawyer quizzes Kate about why she agreed to make a movie about El Chapo, her text messages with El Chapo which were leaked by the Mexican Government, and its disclosure that it is investigating whether El Chapo paid for the plane that flew her and Penn to Mexico and whether El Chapo provided any funds for her Honor tequilla business. (The answer is an emphatic "no" -- She has not received a cent from El Chapo. She paid for the charter plane and she makes enough money from her acting career -- she doesn't need more.)

Some other details disclosed by Kate:

  • El Chapo is taller than she thought he'd be since his nickname is Shorty
  • His eyes penetrate you, they are mesmerizing but scary
  • During their meeting, the armed soldiers were in the woods, there were just a few people inside and none had weapons
  • There were obviously more than 7 government people involved in July, 2015 escape
  • Dinner was prepared by a local family
  • El Chapo talked about his family and protecting his son. He wanted her to meet his mother.
  • She sensed he was tired of life on the run
  • She also confirms he told her he supplies more drugs than anyone in the world. And quickly adds that he still loves his son and mother, so there's love there somewhere.)
  • He never cursed.
  • None of his people smoked or did drugs (Sean Penn was the only smoker)
  • She didn't know until Sean brought it up at the meeting that Sean was there to interview him for Rolling Stone. (Penn insists she did know.)
  • The flight was so bumpy she and Penn started drinking from the bottle of her Honor Tequilla she had brought for El Chapo as a present. During the meeting, she said El Chapo's son drank more of it than he should have and she got a little tipsy.
  • El Chapo walked her to the room where she (and the three men she flew in with) were going to sleep. She was scared he would make a move on her, but he was a perfect gentleman. He told her he wouldn't be there when she woke up, he never stays at the same place as his guests, both for their security and his.

Not all of Sawyer's questions were good ones. She tends to imply what she thinks is the correct answer in her tone when asking the question. For example, she asked "Didn't you know you were under surveillance?", in a tone that strongly implied Kate should have known. Really? Who besides an idiot (which del Castillo is not) would know they are under surveillance and proceed with a plan to meet a fugitive?

I also didn't get Sawyer's pretended surprise when del Castillo acknowledged El Chapo seemed to have a crush on her. This is hardly a new theory. It's been repeatedly suggested (and not just by me) that was a big reason for picking her to be in charge of his movie (along with her speaking her mind and being honest about what she believes.)Sean Penn suggested it in his original Rolling Stone article. And many have pointed out that he may have been infatuated with Teresa Mendoza, her character in La Reina del Sur, rather than Castillo herself.

To del Castillo's credit, she doesn't make stuff up. There's several questions Sawyer asks she has no answer for -- she doesn't even try. She knows some of her answers are contradictory and make no sense. She just shrugs it off -- as in, it is what it is.

There's no resolution for the two biggest discrepancies between her and Penn's version -- whether they were stopped by the military at a checkpoint and whether he told her before their trip he had been hired by Rolling Stone to interview El Chapo. I have no idea which one is correct, nor would I venture a guess.

Also somewhat interesting: Diane Sawyer says at one point that while Mexico initially said del Castillo's meeting was huge in leading El Chapo's capture, it told 20/20 the day before the interview that it was only one of several contributing factors.

One last point: I question whether Diane Sawyer over-hyped El Chapo in saying he might be the biggest drug lord in history. El Chapo has always been just one of several leaders of the Sinaloa Federation. I don't think it's correct to give him all the credit for Sinaloa. I don't even know if he's bigger than Sinaloa co-leader Ismael Zambada-Garcia. And is he really bigger than Pablo Escobar was in Escobar's heyday (after accounting for inflation?)

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  • Display: Sort:
    Everyone involved in this story... (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 20, 2016 at 10:06:17 AM EST
    ...is so full of it, it's a wonder they can suck a breath into their stuffed bodies. Celebrity Jeopardy of the literal sort. Pfft.

    Dadler (5.00 / 1) (#2)
    by fishcamp on Sun Mar 20, 2016 at 02:03:50 PM EST
    I love you man...

    lol. I've no doubt of Guzman's authenticity (none / 0) (#3)
    by Mr Natural on Sun Mar 20, 2016 at 02:13:06 PM EST