By now, Netflix has become a venerable hot bed for compelling television, and only three months into 2017, it's already rolled out a slew of fresh programming additions. Next up in its deluge of original content is Ingobernable, a Mexican political drama set to premiere on Friday, March 24. At the heart of the show is fictional First Lady Emilia Urquiza, a resilient, strong-willed woman whose life is forced off-course in the wake of an impossible situation. But before you dive into its labyrinthine story, you may be wondering: Who plays Emilia on Ingobernable?
If you're familiar with Mexican cinema, you should recognize the actor. Kate del Castillo has been active in the industry since 1978, accruing nearly 60 credits throughout her four-decade career. She landed her first big gig playing Leticia in early '90s telenovela Muchachitas. She went on to appear in a number of Mexican films and series — La Mentira, Amor Que Mata, Azul — before breaking into the American market in the early 2000s. Since then, she's nabbed parts as Ofelia in American Family, Pilar Zuazo in Weeds, and Luciana Leon in Jane the Virgin, among many others. She's best known for playing Teresa Mendoza in Telemundo's La Reina del Sur (The Queen of the South).
But for many, del Castillo's name may sound most familiar from her real-world dealings. Early last year, Rolling Stone published a secret interview Sean Penn had conducted with the notorious Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán. He'd escaped twice from prison in Mexico — once in 2001 and again in 2015 — while serving time for a drug trafficking conviction, and del Castillo had brokered the meeting while Guzmán was on the run.
According to the New Yorker, del Castillo published a controversial tweet about Guzmán in 2012, writing that she "[believed] more in El Chapo Guzmán" than she did "in the governments that hide truths" from her. Two years later, in the summer of 2014, she received an email from one of Guzmán's lawyers, who asked if del Castillo would come to Mexico City to discuss making a movie about Guzmán's life. When they met in September, the lawyer told her that Guzmán wanted to give her the rights to his life story. (At the time, Guzmán was still in a federal prison in Mexico.)
Eventually, Argentine producer Fernando Sulichin — one of the few people del Castillo had told about the project — put her in touch with Penn. The New Yorker reported that del Castillo and her team believed the movie stood a better chance of being picked up by a film studio if a major figure American figure, like Penn, was attached to it. Penn asked if they could go and see Guzmán — who'd escaped from prison a second time in July of 2015 — and del Castillo arranged the meeting.
Three months later, Mexican troops re-captured Guzmán. Del Castillo claimed to ABC that the Mexican government then began implicating her, saying the ability to track her trip was a contributing factor to Guzmán's capture, though she denied that she in any way helped Mexican authorities capture Guzmán. In January, the New York Times reported that Guzmán had been extradited to the U.S., where he'll face charges that include the manufacture and distribution of a range of drugs, the use of firearms, money laundering and running an ongoing criminal enterprise. He pleaded not guilty, as reported by USA Today, and the trial is ongoing.
Originally, Ingobernable was set to be filmed in Mexico, but del Castillo told the Associated Press that she feared she would be detained if she returned to the country. According to CBS, a spokeswoman for Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office later responded to del Castillo's claims, saying that though she had been “mentioned” in criminal investigations, there are no warrants for del Castillo’s arrest, and that she “has no legal impediment to enter or move freely” in Mexico.
Nonetheless, it seems del Castillo had plenty of intense experience to pull from when approaching the character of Emilia. Catch her in action when Ingobernable premieres March 24.