El Universal
A vendor sells newspapers showing a picture of drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán (R) shaking hands with US actor Sean Penn in Mexico City on January 10, 2016. ALFREDO ESTRELLA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kate Del Castillo is finally speaking up about her controversial meeting with Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán. During the past two months, Del Castillo declined to make any additional commentary to the rumors floating around about her connection to the drug lord. On Friday, however, The New Yorker published the first interview in which the actress tells her side of the story. “See, I just do things, and I never see the consequences,” the telenovela star told journalist Robert Draper.

From what we could gather from her chat with Draper, the 43-year-old actress never expected things to go sour. She had every intention to work with the Sinaloa Cartel leader, and still does, but she thought she could benefit from Sean Penn’s expertise and didn’t think his inclusion would lead to this media circus she is now dealing with.

In a very detailed break down of the happenings published by Proceso, Kate narrates her encounter with “El Chapo.” “La Reina del Sur” starts by specifying that the reason behind the gathering was always the intention to discuss the possibility of a movie, TV series or documentary project with Guzmán.

In her article, titled “El día que conocí a Guzmán Loera,” Kate goes back to the famous social media post that started this ordeal. “I never imagined that, apparently, Joaquín Guzmán Loera reads Twitter during his ‘spare time’ and that he would contact me three years later,” she writes.

Kate continues to explain how she first got in touch with one of the most wanted men in the world. “I received a call from my mom telling me someone was looking for me to be involved in a big movie – ‘If only she had know what this was all about!’ – As usual she asked me if she could give them my personal email account. When they go through my parents first, I like to deal with them directly before sending them to my manager, so I authorized it.”

Del Castillo points out she had no idea who she was exchanging emails with in the beginning, “It wasn’t until three weeks later that I received a new mail. It read, ‘We are Joaquín Guzmán Loera’s lawyers.’” Kate blames her zodiac sign, Scorpio, for everything that happened next. “Like a good Scorpio, I rather have things under my control,” she says about agreeing to meet with el capo’s lawyers in Toluca, Mexico back in 2014 and not asking for anyone’s advice or help.

Kate confesses she was extremely nervous once she got to Mexico and was alone in a car with two men in dark suits, who in addition, worked for one of the most dangerous men in the world, but things were pretty clear once they sat a restaurant near the Toluca airport. “Mr. Guzmán has received several offers from Hollywood studios that want to make a movie about his life but he refused to give his life rights to everyone…except you.”

Throughout the text, Del Castillo explains she was driven by the desire to document the life of the man who the most powerful nation in the world had named public enemy number one. “I wanted to accomplish something that no one else has,” she mentions. Kate recalls the lawyers telling her that “El Chapo” wanted nothing more but to tell the truth, “He wants to tell the truth, leave things clear for once and for all about many false things that have been said, he wants to talk about his childhood and why he ended up in the business.”

Del Castillo adds the experience helped a great deal with the character she was currently playing on TV, Anastasia Cardona in “Dueños del Paraíso,” “I have never felt so much in character before,” she recalls. “I couldn’t believe how reality and fiction are not that far apart from each other sometimes.”

Yet, when she found out that Joaquín Guzmán Loera had escaped from prison on July 11, 2015, reality seemed a little more dangerous as days went by. “My blood pressure dropped, everything seemed like it was made out of crystal and moving in slow motion, almost paused. My sight went blurry. I couldn’t hear anything, the sound of pool balls knocking against each other rumbled in my stomach. I ran out of the place without giving any explanations,” she says of the day she received the call from the lawyers telling her “El Chapo” was now a fugitive.

Kate reveals that she thought it was “incredible” that the infamous kingpin has managed to escape prison once again and confesses she maintained constant contact with him via letters. “It wasn’t just one letter, and I still keep them all.” However, as pleased as she was to see her amigo out, she was concerned about the future of the project. “When he was in jail everything seemed easier. I was planning on sending a writer to the Altiplano maximum-security prison, so he could sit down with him and listen to his story from beginning to end, and that way start giving life to the movie. It was going to be so easy, but now it was all coming to an end,” she writes.

But just when she thought it was all over, Kate received an email from the lawyers and assured her “El Chapo” was still interested in working with her on the project. This is when Sean Penn comes into the story. “I called the producers immediately and found out the circumstances had changed,” she says. “One of them told me that Sean Penn wanted to sit down and talk with me. In that moment, I started to do research on him. Not as an actor, but as a philanthropist, activist, and a human being. He is a man that knows what happens around him, and has really done something to try to make it better. So I said yes.”

Little did she know that agreeing to meet with the Hollywood actor for lunch would lead to two months of dealing with the media, and defending herself from hateful comments on the Internet.

Kate disclosed she made all the arrangements needed to take Penn and the producers to Mexico once “El Chapo” and his lawyers agreed to meet with the Hollywood people and talk about the biopic. “I had a huge weight on my shoulders. We were going to visit the number one fugitive, thanks to the trust he had one me. What a pressure to have!”

Remember that photo Kate posted on Instagram with Sean Penn and a Mariachi band last year? Everyone started saying they were dating after that, when in fact, it was the day the finalized the arrangements before flying to Mexico and meeting with one of the most famous criminals in the world.

Kate admits she felt paranoid most of the times she got in touch with Guzmán, or anyone who worked for him. “Maybe he was from the DEA, or maybe an undercover agent from the American government that is here to sabotage the trip,” she recalls she thought of the man who offered her a cup of coffee once she got to the Van Nuys Hangar on the day of the flight.

When they arrived in Mexico, one of “El Chapo’s” sons was in charge of driving them into their next location. “Me and my colleagues asked him if he would blindfold us, he replied, ‘Where’s the trust? Also, if we left you guys here, would you know where you are?,’” she recalls of the moment before taking a small jet plane in route to their last destination where they would finally meet with the Sinaloa Cartel leader.

According to Kate’s narration, it was Sean Penn who conducted most of the dialogue once they met with Mr. Guzmán. “He asked him if he could write an article for Rolling Stone magazine, which took me completely by surprise,” she says in her story, sticking to what she has previously stated regarding Penn’s actions and alleged betrayal.

Throughout her piece, Kate talks highly of Guzmán Loera’s manners yet, she stays away from encouraging rumors about a possible crush and focuses on the professional relationship she has with the drug lord. “My friend, don’t forget about what I asked in my tweet, you can do good, you are a powerful man,” she says she told Guzmán once she finally had the courage to address him. “And our project is going to help to speak out for all those who have been victimized by organized crime, what to do you think?” He replied, “My friend, you have a great heart, and I think that is very good.”

Kate finalizes her narration by stating that she may or may not have a story that will make her, Sean, and the producers involved closer together. However, she wants to clarify that the current travesty she is living, “does NOT define who she is. Thank God.”

Del Castillo will continue the conversation about her meeting with “El Chapo” Guzmán on Friday, when she sits down in front of the cameras for the first timw in two months and talks about her experience with one of the most wanted men in the world on ABC with Diane Sawyer. Stay tuned!

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