A former 'Star Wars' actor is at the center of a Disney free speech lawsuit

 Gina Carano in 'The Mandalorian'.
Gina Carano in 'The Mandalorian'.

There is a disturbance in the Force, and it comes in the form of a lawsuit against The Walt Disney Company. Gina Carano, a former actor in the "Star Wars" universe, is suing the Mouse House over her firing nearly three years ago. Carano, who played former Rebel trooper Cara Dune on the "Star Wars" television series "The Mandalorian," was let go by Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm after a series of controversial posts on social media.

Carano is attempting to get Disney and Lucasfilm to rehire her, claiming that her termination from the company was the result of her right-wing, conservative views. "I was being hunted down from everything I posted to every post I liked because I was not in line with the acceptable narrative of the time," Carano wrote on X in a post announcing the lawsuit. Lucasfilm and Disney parted ways with Carano in February 2021 after she shared a post on Instagram likening the treatment of Jews in Nazi Germany to those with conservative beliefs in the United States. This led to Carano being dropped because "her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable," Lucasfilm and Disney said at the time of her firing.

The social media post was one in a long line of controversial comments from the actor, who now appears to be seeking a spot back in a galaxy far, far away. Does Carano have a case in her rehire lawsuit, which is being financed by X owner Elon Musk, or will Disney win out in court?

What is Carano trying to accomplish?

The lawsuit alleges that Disney and Lucasfilm "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 was "terminated from her role as swiftly as her character's peaceful home planet of Alderaan had been destroyed by the Death Star in an earlier 'Star Wars' film," the lawsuit alleged, claiming that this occurred because Carano "dared voice her own opinions, on social media platforms and elsewhere." Carano, through her lawsuit, is attempting to force Lucasfilm to recast her as Cara Dune and pay $75,000 in punitive damages for wrongful termination.

The lawsuit from Carano alleges that Disney and Lucasfilm "harassed and defamed Carano for refusing to conform with their viewpoints on issues relating to Black Lives Matter, preferred pronouns and disproven claims of election interference," The Hollywood Reporter said. The actor was allegedly fired by the companies due to her controversial social media posts, but her lawsuit claims that Disney "turned a blind eye to her male costars, who allegedly made offensive and denigrating posts directed toward Republicans," The Hollywood Reporter said.

Carano’s lawsuit points to "previous social media posts from 'Star Wars' actors Pedro Pascal and Mark Hamill, in which [former] President Donald Trump and his supporters were compared to Adolf Hitler and Nazis," as examples of Disney ignoring political statements from men, Variety said.

Because Carano's comments were originally made on X, Elon Musk is funding the lawsuit, as he has previously committed to doing. In a statement, X's head of business operations, Joe Benarroch, said the company was "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."

What happens next?

Disney and Lucasfilm have mostly been mum about the lawsuit. Disney CEO Bob Iger simply replied, "None," when asked by CNBC if he had any comment about the ongoing legal matters — though The Hollywood Reporter noted that Iger "did not seem particularly pleased to be asked about Gina Carano’s lawsuit." Lucasfilm executives have, unsurprisingly, also not commented on the matter.

It seems that Musk is trying to enlist additional parties to join his campaign for free speech. Following the news of the legal proceedings, the head of X wrote that people should "let us know if you would like to join the lawsuit against Disney" and praised Carano for bringing her lawsuit.

A timeline for the case has not been set. However, Carano wrote in her original post on X that "my now lawyers & X believe whole-heartedly in my case and are moving forward."