Musk Backs Lawsuit Against Disney Over ‘Mandalorian’ Firing

(Bloomberg) -- Elon Musk is financing a lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. by mixed martial artist-turned actor Gina Carano, who claims she was wrongly fired from the hit series The Mandalorian over social-media posts criticized as antisemitic and transphobic.

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Carano’s lawsuit filed Tuesday in federal court in Los Angeles claims Disney and Lucasfilm Ltd. violated California law in terminating her from the Star Wars spinoff in February 2021 due to her political views. She also said the actions against her were discriminatory because her male co-stars on the show were not similarly punished for making political statements.

“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,” Carano’s lawyers said in the suit. “And so it was with Carano.”

Disney and Lucasfilm didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Then-Disney Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek addressed Carano’s firing at a March 2021 shareholder meeting, saying the company stands for “values of respect, values of decency, values of integrity and values of inclusion.”

Many of Carano’s controversial posts were on X, the platform previously known as Twitter. Musk in August offered to provide legal representation to people fired from the their jobs for statements they made on X. The company said Tuesday it was honoring that commitment by backing Carano’s suit.

Carano was fired shortly after a February 10, 2021, Instagram post in which she suggested that conservative supporters of former President Donald Trump were being treated like Jews during the Holocaust. But that followed a long trail of Twitter posts in which she expressed strong views on Covid vaccines, gender identity and the outcome of the 2020 election.

X’s support for Carano comes months after Musk was also criticized for endorsing a post widely regarded as antisemitic. The billionaire said he agreed with a post accusing Jewish communities of promoting “hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” Musk later apologized for the post.

The actor, who previously held roles in Deadpool and a Fast and Furious movie, played a member of the Rebel Alliance called Cara Dune. According to her suit, Dune was popular enough that Disney was planning a spinoff centering on the character called Rangers of the New Republic. Carano was to star in the new show and would have been paid base compensation of between $150,000 and $250,000 per episode under a six-year contract.

Carano claims that, after her February 2021 post, she wasn’t brought back for season three of The Mandalorian, and the new show was shelved. She didn’t specify a damages amount she was seeking, but she said she suffered millions of dollars in losses. Carano is also seeking to be reinstated to her prior position.

In her suit, Carano highlighted social-media posts by her Mandalorian co-stars, including lead actor Pedro Pascal, noting he previously compared Trump to Hitler and compared the treatment of migrants at the border to the Holocaust. She noted the frequent criticisms of Trump and conservatives by Mark Hamill, the Luke Skywalker actor who made a memorable guest appearance in the Mandalorian’s season two finale.

“While Carano was fired, defendants took no action against male actors who took equally or more vigorous and controversial positions on social media,” she says in her suit.

The case is Carano v. Walt Disney Co., 24-cv-1009, US District Court, Central District of California (Los Angeles).

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