Sean Penn’s lawyers have warned the streaming service Netflix it will have “blood on their hands” if a documentary about the actor’s meeting with Mexican drug lord El Chapo is released.
The Oscar-winner is said to fear for his safety over the suggestion he helped bring the infamous Mexican criminal to justice by working with the American government.
However Netflix is standing its ground, noting Mr Penn himself has discussed the bizarre meeting and refusing to pull the “stranger-than-fiction” story.
The row centres on an audience that El Chapo granted Mr Penn and Mexican actress Kate del Castillo in October 2015.
El Chapo, a narco trafficker whose real name is Joaquín Guzmán Loera, was one of the world’s most wanted men at the time. Just months later he was captured.
Netflix is set to retell the encounter in a documentary called ‘The Day I Met El Chapo: The Kate del Castillo Story’, based on the Mexican actress's account.
However Mr Penn’s team have demanded the film be pulled, claiming it implies he worked with the US officials and fearing a retribution attack.
Theodore J. Boutrous Jnr, Mr Penn’s lawyer, warned Netflix it is “hereby on notice that blood will be on their hands if this film causes bodily harm”, according to a letter seen by the New York Times.
Mark Fabiani, a spokesman for Mr. Penn, said: “It is reprehensible that, in their ongoing, relentless efforts to gain additional attention and publicity, Ms. del Castillo and her team (who have zero firsthand knowledge) have sought to create this profoundly false, foolish, and reckless narrative.
“The notion that Mr. Penn or anyone on his behalf alerted the Department of Justice to the trip is a complete fabrication and baldfaced lie. It never happened, nor would there have been any reason for it to have happened.”
A Netflix spokesman said: “Penn was given the opportunity on multiple occasions to participate in ‘The Day I Met El Chapo’ and did not do so.
“The events surrounding the now-infamous meeting have been well covered, including by Penn himself in Rolling Stone and his many public comments since.
"The only new ground we’re breaking with this series is to give Kate a chance to finally tell her side of this stranger-than-fiction story.”