We all know how Ricky Gervais felt about Sean Penn, as he opened up his monologue at the Golden Globes with a joke calling the actor-turned-journalist “a snitch.” The gag was a reference to the Oscar-winner’s interview with fugitive drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera — better known as El Chapo — for Rolling Stone, a chat that possibly gave up Guzman’s location to authorizes and led to his recapture.
Gervais may have joked, but Penn’s meeting with a most-wanted international criminal did not go unnoticed by the media and politicians. A White House spokesperson said Penn’s top-secret meeting with Guzmán in October was “maddening,” and Sen. Marco Rubio called Penn’s interview “grotesque.”
The topic was definitely top of mind at the Golden Globes on Sunday night, though many attendees at the ceremony pleaded ignorance when asked what they thought of the weekend’s other big event. Jane Fonda, sitting at her table after congratulating Aaron Sorkin on his best screenplay win for Steve Jobs, said she hadn’t read up on Penn’s interview enough to comment; Quentin Tarantino, caught in the bar, claimed to have only seen the headlines: “Teaches you to not just read the headlines,” he quipped.
Matt Damon tried a little harder to rationalize Penn’s actions when he was in the press room, after winning best actor in a comedy for his role in The Martian. “It’s nothing new, actors going and seeking out meetings like this,” he said. “It’s part of what we do in our job really well, and Sean somehow figured out that he had an audience with this person and I’m sure was pursuing something creatively and thought a meeting with him would be valuable, so he did it.”
One high-ranking studio executive, however, wasn’t as generous — though he spoke only on background. “He’s a moron, he’s an idiot. I have a very high tolerance for the nonsense so many of these people display. But Sean Penn, he’s an idiot. Did he contact law enforcement? Did he consider all the people who have been killed?”