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Sean Penn Speaks Out About El Chapo Article

"I don't have to be the one that reports on the alleged murders or the amount of narcotics that are brought in," Penn said. "I go and I spend time in the company of another human being, which everyone is. And I make an observation and try to parallel that, try to balance that with the focus that I believe we tend to put too much emphasis on. So, when I understood from colleagues of mine that there was a potential for contact with him, it just struck me that I wanted to."

Penn traveled into the Mexican jungle last October with soap actress Kate del Castillo, who helped arrange the meeting. Asked by Rose why he wanted to do the interview, Penn suggested that people may vilify El Chapo too much.

"To over-demonize any human being is not in our best self-interest," Penn said. "Like it or not, we're married to 'em. They're of our time. They're affecting us. So, like a marriage, you might want a divorce."

"You got to look at this person as a person," Penn continued. "If all we aim to understand is that this is a very bad person, then let's not understand anything else."

The actor's 10,000-word Rolling Stone account was published earlier this month, a day after Mexican Marines recaptured El Chapo, who escaped prison last summer. Although Penn said that he doesn't fear for his life, he's less sure about whether the drug kingpin's cartel intends to harm him in the future.

"They've been in this business a long time," Penn said. "They've dealt with law-enforcement issues for a long time. They've dealt with misinformation for a long time. There are irrational people. And so I can't say for sure, you know, that there's no risk."

Rose said that many people assume the actor did the story out of ego and Hunter S. Thompson-like ambitions. Penn responded that while he understands that perception, "they're not right." He also expanded on his own concerns about journalism.

"I can be very, you know, flamboyant in my words sometimes," Penn said. "I can get angry, like many people can. I'm really sad about the state of journalism in our country. It has been an incredible hypocrisy and an incredible lesson in just how much they don't know and how disserved we are."

Penn admitted that he is "not without controversy. ... Journalists who want to say that I'm not a journalist. Well, I want to see the license that says that they're a journalist."

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