Former The Mandalorian actor Gina Carano, with financial backing from Elon Musk, has filed a lawsuit against Disney claiming she was wrongfully terminated from the show in 2021 and discriminated against for her political views and her gender. According to the complaint filed with the California federal court this week, Carano is not only seeking $75,000 in damages but also wants the court to force Disney to recast her on The Mandalorian, which would be an unprecedented turn of events for the entertainment industry and pretty ludicrous.
I’m no legal expert, but if Carano’s legal team were to somehow convince the court to rule that Disney had to bring her back as Cara Dune on a future show, how would that even work? What sort of welcome back would Carano expect to receive from a studio she reportedly has a toxic relationship with, not to mention the section of angry fans who wanted her off the series in the first place? And for just how long does Carano expect to be back on the show?
Marshal Cara Dune was officially written out of The Mandalorian last year, with the season 3 premiere explaining that she’d been recruited to New Republic special forces, out of sight and out of mind for future Star Wars stories but without completely killing off the character. In other words, there’s a way for Cara Dune to simply pop back up on The Mandalorian in the future, but I find it very hard to believe the comeback would result in a long-term recurring role for Carano on the show. Wouldn’t Disney work to find a more…permanent end for Carano’s character as quickly as possible? What is Carano trying to achieve here?
“I would love to pick up where I left off & continue my journey of creating & participating in story-telling, which is my utmost passion & everything I worked so hard for,” Carano explained in a statement on Twitter after the filing. “It has been difficult to move forward with the lies & labels stuck on me, backed & encouraged by the most powerful entertainment company in the world. I am grateful someone has come to my defense in such a powerful way & look forward to clearing my name.”
Sure, proving Disney acted in bad faith would be one way Carano could (at least in the eyes of the law, if not necessarily the public’s) “clear her name” from the accusations lodged against her, but forcing herself back into a franchise and community that really don’t seem to want her as a member hardly sounds like “moving forward.” Again, this really seems like a ridiculous plan.
Carano was let go from the Star Wars series in 2021 following a string of controversies sparked by the actor’s inflammatory social media posts, which included spreading dangerous conspiracy theories about mask mandates at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, mocking the trans community’s use of pronouns in their Twitter bios, and making false claims about voter fraud after the 2020 presidential election.
Facing public outcry from angry fans demanding her firing from Disney’s biggest TV series, Carano at the time compared the way she was being treated for her right-wing views to Jewish people during the Holocaust: “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?” she wrote in a now-deleted social post.
In February 2021, Disney confirmed that Carano would not return to the show and publicly denounced the actor’s statements, saying “her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.” THR reported at the time that Lucasfilm had “been looking for a reason to fire [Carano] for two months, and today was the final straw.” Carano was also dropped by her talent agency UTA.
Carano claimed in the suit that Disney led a “smear campaign” against her. She also argued that she was singled out for her views, while her male co-star Pedro Pascal used his social media platform to compare Donald Trump to Hitler without facing a similar disciplinary action.
“My words were consistently twisted to demonize & dehumanize me as an alt right wing extremist,” Carano wrote in a statement on Twitter after the filing. “It was a bullying smear campaign aimed at silencing, destroying & making an example out of me.”
According to the court filing, “Defendants went so far as to try and convince Carano’s publicist to force Carano to issue a statement admitting to mocking or insulting an entire group of people, which Carano had never done.” This allegedly included a request for Carano to publicly apologize for comments made on social media as well as attending a meeting with a GLAAD representative and Disney employees who identify as LGBTQ+. But Carano declined.
Musk’s involvement in the case comes as part of a promise to financially back users who feel they’ve been discriminated against by their employer due to their Twitter posts. But even the billionaire’s ample war chest might not be enough to convince a judge that Disney violated Carano’s freedom of speech. As THR points out, since Disney operates in the private sector, Carano is “not shielded against discipline under the First Amendment.”
Ahead of a quarterly earnings call this week, Disney CEO Bob Iger was asked by CNBC (via THR) whether he had any thoughts on the lawsuit. His response: “None.”