The actress claimed she saved Penn's life — even though she believes he had complete disregard for hers.
This episode featured an abusive husband, a murderous drug lord, and somehow worst of all — Sean Penn.
The actor was torn to shreds by Kate del Castillo and Gloria Estefan as the El Chapo debacle took center stage on Wednesday's Red Table Talk.
The "La Reina Del Sur" star took the Estefan ladies back to the controversial tweets that started it all, when she called on him to "traffic in love" instead of drugs, stating: "Today I believe more in El Chapo Guzman than in the governments that hide truths from me..."
Unbeknownst to her, Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán — whose Sinaloa Cartel has killed an estimated 12,000 people, 25 percent of whom he claims to have killed personally — had a thing for her, and reached out through his lawyers (while in prison) with an offer to work on his life story.
del Castillo in turn reached out to producers Fernando Sulichin and Jose Ibanez about the idea — and that's when Sean Penn got involved.
When El Chapo escaped prison in 2015, Kate assumed her project was done for; but the producers reassured her it had just gotten a lot better.
Penn was very keen to meet the drug kingpin, even though El Chapo didn't know who Sean Penn was (and whose lawyers had to Google him), so when the lawyers reached out again, Kate set the meeting up.
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She rented a plane, they flew to Mexico, and everyone on board was on the same page — or so she thought; del Castillo said the moment they arrived at the compound, she discovered Penn was going to throw her under the bus.
After opening the door himself, El Chapo was staring and smiling broadly at Kate, (and apparently completely ignoring Penn); "Suddenly Sean starts saying 'Tell him I want to interview him for Rolling Stone Magazine'," she claimed. "And I was just like 'wait - this was not on the script.'"
"I could not do a face, because he's going to notice that something is wrong, and this guy," she says, pointing to where Penn sat, "is going to be dead in just a blink of an eye."
In the weeks spent preparing for the trip, and the hours spent making their way there, she said the Oscar-winner had never revealed to her his true intentions, and claimed he was simply using her to get to El Chapo with no regard to where that left her.
"It's really interesting that I'm liking El Chapo more than Sean Penn right now," Gloria mused.
After the surprise interview, Kate said, "My nightmare started there."
El Chapo took her to a room, telling her this is where she will sleep — when it sinks in she is completely at the mercy of one of the world's most notorious criminals.
"We didn't even know that we were gonna stay there," Kate recalled. "I thought I was gonna be raped, and definitely killed or something... he could have done whatever the hell he wanted, what can I do?"
But luckily for her, nothing happened. He held her by the elbow and told her: "Well amiga, you're not gonna see me again, because I'm taking off right now."
Seeing her last chance, she — very nervously — asked if money from the film could be donated to the families of crime victims.
"That's why I like you — let's do that," he told her, before hugging her and departing.
Relieved and exhausted, she said she climbed into bed fully clothed and fell straight asleep... only to be woken one hour later to frantic yells as the compound was evacuated; less than 24 hours later the military came in and started shooting.
But despite the nigh-unbelievable drama of the trip, Penn still managed to exaggerate in his "full of shit" article, she claimed.
For example, the part where he wrote that armed military guards waved them through a checkpoint at the sight of one of El Chapo's henchmen? Complete fiction, Kate claimed.
"He's an asshole," she said. "He just put it there to sparkle a little bit of his stupid story."
"There was never a checkpoint. I hated him for that. But that's why his article was full of shit."
Of course, before the article was to be published, there was the little matter of the widely-reported tryst between del Castillo and Penn, which — as Lili Estefan described — "got complicated for us" who were following the scandal.
"On the plane back, we were only the both of us," Kate explained. "And we were so excited, I had a champagne bottle. It's like 'we did it - and we are alive!'"
"So we celebrated, both of us... and there was something there."
As the Estefan's poked fun, she clarified that they didn't "physically celebrate" there and then on the plane — but did later.
"Let me tell you something," she said, stopping the laughter. "They asked if I had something romantic, if I had a relationship — no. I only had sex. It just happened."
Within weeks of the interview being published, El Chapo was recaptured, as it emerged agents had tracked del Castillo's visit... which left her in the crosshairs on both sides. She said that the Mexican government, embarrassed that she could get to El Chapo while they couldn't, accused her of being his lover and accomplice, and began investigating her for money laundering and obstruction of justice. Meanwhile she had no way of knowing if El Chapo's gang believed she had secretly worked with the authorities to help capture him.
She was branded "El Chapo's whore", as she, along with her family and friends were tormented, to a point where she had to flee her home country, and hasn't been back since.
Penn meanwhile emerged from the controversy largely unscathed; it also later emerged that of the four who visited El Chapo, only Kate was being investigated, as Penn and the other two producers had secretly signed a deal with Rolling Stone to make them members of the press, thus protecting them from prosecution under journalism laws.
"When the story came out, I never talked to him again. I was totally destroyed. It was crushing me every single day for months," Kate said.
"He used me as bait, and he never protected me. And risked my life and my parents' life and my sister's life, and everybody surrounding me."
As Gloria summarized: "So he f-ed you in every way possible."