MADRID (AFP) - Mexican filmmaker Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has defended Hollywood actor Sean Penn's meeting with Mexican drug lord Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman, saying in an interview published on Sunday that the US star "had every right" to look for the kingpin.
"I understand Sean Penn. He has been an activist for 30 years. And has written many articles. He has great curiosity and is attracted to controversial figures," Inarritu, who won the best director Oscar for his dark comedy Birdman in 2015, told daily Spanish newspaper El Pais.
"He has every right to look for El Chapo. He wrote a fantastic column about how he reached him and, unfortunately, a not very successful interview because of what he could not ask. The news value is poor; the experience, very rich," he added.
Penn has faced a barrage of criticism for agreeing to let Guzman greenlight the article published in Rolling Stone magazine on Jan 9.
The interview was published a day after Mexican authorities arrested "El Chapo", who had escaped from a prison in July through an underground tunnel.
While the Oscar-winning actor met Guzman for several hours in October, he had to send questions that the drug lord answered in a video later on, which prevented Penn from making follow-up questions.
Critics have also accused Penn, 55, of seeming to glorify - or at least go easy on - a man blamed for thousands of deaths in Mexico's drug-related violence and contributing to drug addiction in America in his article which describes "El Chapo" as a "humble, rural Mexican".
The actor has become known in Latin America region for befriending leftist leaders, including late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Bolivia's Evo Morales in Bolivia.
In 2008, he interviewed Cuban President Raul Castro for The Nation magazine.
Inarritu, 52, could become the third director in history to win the Oscar for best director two years in a row. He was nominated on Thursday for the award for The Revenant, an epic survival thriller starring Leonardo DiCaprio. The film is up for 12 Oscars in total.
The Oscars will be awarded in Los Angeles on Feb 28.