Elon Musk and X are helping Gina Carano foot the legal bill in her new lawsuit against Disney and Lucasfilm after she was dropped from The Mandalorian in 2021 over her controversial social media posts.
In the wrongful termination lawsuit (shared via The Hollywood Reporter), Carano claims she was fired for voicing her conservative opinions on social media, while some of her co-stars and Disney peers — including Mandalorian star Pedro Pascal — were neither reprimanded, nor ousted for voicing their liberal views. Carano is seeking financial damages, and a court order that would force Lucasfilm and Disney to recast her.
As for X’s involvement, it appears to mark the first time the company (formerly known as Twitter) has followed through on Musk’s promise to pay the legal fees of anyone fired over their posts. X’s head of business operations, Joe Bennaroch, said, “As a sign of X Corp’s commitment to free speech, we’re proud to provide financial support for Gina Carano’s lawsuit, empowering her to seek vindication of her free speech rights on X and the ability to work without bullying, harassment, or discrimination.”
Representatives for Lucasfilm and Disney did not immediately return Rolling Stone‘s requests for comment.
Carano’s lawsuit outlines a lengthy, contentious battle between herself and Lucasfilm/Disney over her social media posts in the year or so leading up to her firing in February 2021. To get a sense of the tenor of the suit, and the arguments it’s trying to make, look no further than its opening lines: “A short time ago in a galaxy not so far away, Defendants made it clear that only one orthodoxy in thought, speech, or action was acceptable in their empire, and that those who dared to question or failed to fully comply would not be tolerated. And so it was with Carano.”
Carano’s posts — and the backlash/controversy they courted — are cited at length in the lawsuit, and involve Carano’s thoughts on everything from the Black Lives Matter protests and LGBTQ+ issues like preferred pronouns to Covid-19 regulations and alleged, unproven voter fraud in the 2020 election.
Throughout these posting sprees, Carano claims Disney and Lucasfilm “targeted, harassed, publicly humiliated, defamed and went to great lengths to destroy Carano’s career, all because she made political statements that did not align with what they believed was an acceptable viewpoint.” To further back up her claim, the lawsuit cites a quote from former Disney CEO Bob Chapek, who said Carano was ousted “because she didn’t align with Company values.”
Carano alleges that Disney’s “harassment campaign” against her included demanding additional public apologies after finding some of her social media statements about her posts “insufficient.” She also claims that the defendants tried to get her to participate in a Zoom call with Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and 45 employees who identified as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“The purpose was clear, Carano had to ‘grow’ and ‘learn,’ and Defendants wanted to know ‘where her mindset is currently’ with regard to the controversy over pronouns,” the lawsuit states. “Until then, they were not going to allow her to speak to the media or include her in any promotions.” (Carano said she declined the Zoom, and offered to take a handful of employees to dinner instead, an offer she says the defendants rejected.)
As for her actual firing, that came in February 2021, not long after the hashtag #FireGinaCarano started trending. In response, Carano shared an Instagram story that appeared to compare “hating someone for their political views” to the antisemitic treatment of Jews during the Nazi regime.
(Carano later deleted the post. In full, it read: “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.”)
The lawsuit insists that Carano “compared no one or group of people to the Jewish people during the Holocaust. Rather, she noted the danger that arises when one point of view is singled out for harassment.”
Carano was ousted a day later, with a Lucasfilm spokesperson saying at the time, “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
Furthermore, the lawsuit goes on to argue that the defendants’ treatment of Carano stood “in stark contrast” to the way they treated her male co-stars and other male employees when they voiced their opinions on social media. The suit cites left-leaning posts from Carl Weathers and Mark Hamill, but leans especially hard on Pedro Pascal’s very outspoken social media presence.
For instance, the lawsuit features posts from Pascal that appear to compare Donald Trump and his supporters to Hitler and the Nazis, as well as one that features an illustration of Bert and Ernie that advocates for Black trans people and defunding the police.
The suit argues, “Pascal was not disciplined, required to review documentaries on any of these topics or speak to individuals with contrary points of view, or pressured to apologize for any of his posts. His employment was not terminated, and Defendants made no public statements about his social media posts, much less refer to them as ‘abhorrent.’” (A rep for Pascal did not immediately return Rolling Stone’s request for comment.)