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Elon Musk Is Funding Ex-‘Mandalorian’ Actress’s Suit Against Disney

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Elon Musk Is Funding Ex-‘Mandalorian’ Actress’s Suit Against Disney

Elon Musk poked the Walt Disney Company anew on Tuesday by agreeing to fund a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed by the “Mandalorian” actress Gina Carano.

“Please let us know if you would like to join the lawsuit against Disney,” Mr. Musk, seemingly trawling for other plaintiffs, wrote in a post on X, which he bought in 2022.

Disney dropped Ms. Carano, a former mixed-martial artist, from “The Mandalorian” in 2021 after she espoused baseless conspiracy theories and right-wing positions, some of which were seen as homophobic and antisemitic, in a series of social media posts. Her character was written out of the series. Lucasfilm, the Disney division that makes “The Mandalorian,” said in a statement at the time that Ms. Carano’s “social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”

United Talent Agency also dropped Ms. Carano.

Ms. Carano’s suit, filed on Tuesday in federal court in California, seeks a court order forcing Disney and Lucasfilm to weave her “Mandalorian” character back into episodes and recast her for the part. (Employed as a “guest actor,” she was paid $25,000 for each episode in which she appeared.) She is also suing for punitive damages.

Mr. Musk has been throwing elbows at Disney and its chief executive, Robert A. Iger, since Disney and X’s other major advertisers, including Apple, paused spending on the platform in mid-November. The advertisers took action after Mr. Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory. He seemed especially angry about Disney’s decision to pull ads; other Hollywood companies, in particular, followed Disney’s lead.

In internal documents at X, which were seen by The New York Times, sales employees have been notified that Disney has continued to pause advertising on the platform “globally” and “indefinitely.”

Spokesmen for Disney did not respond to requests for comment for this article on Tuesday.

In late November, Mr. Musk verbally attacked Mr. Iger from the stage of The New York Times’s DealBook Summit. (Citing Disney’s pulling of ads, which Mr. Musk called “blackmail,” the billionaire used an expletive to tell Mr. Iger to go away.) In December, after Disney stood firm, Mr. Musk wrote on X that Mr. Iger “should be fired,” adding that “Walt Disney is turning in his grave over what Bob has done to his company.”

More recently, Mr. Musk has cheered on Nelson Peltz, an activist investor who, with the disgruntled former chairman of Marvel Entertainment, is waging a proxy battle to gain two seats on the Disney board.

“Brutal track record,” Mr. Musk wrote on X on Jan. 18, amplifying a post by Mr. Peltz’s Trian Partners that highlighted Disney’s underperforming stock. “Shareholders have been incredibly poorly served by the @Disney board!”

Disney has vigorously defended its board, along with Mr. Iger’s track record. Mr. Iger, who came out of retirement in 2022 to retake Disney’s reins, has cut costs drastically, moved to turbocharge growth at Disney parks and reorganized the company to improve movie quality, among other efforts.

Asked about the extent of Mr. Peltz’s relationship with Mr. Musk, a spokesman for Trian had no immediate comment. Mr. Peltz and Mr. Musk were photographed together on Saturday at the Los Angeles premiere of “Lola,” an independent film that one of Mr. Peltz’s daughters wrote, directed and starred in.

X’s head of business operations, Joe Benarroch, said in a statement that Mr. Musk’s 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.”

Last year, Mr. Musk vowed to fund legal action for X users who said they had been discriminated against at work because of their posts on the platform. At the time, he said he would “go after the boards of directors of the companies too.”

Ms. Carano’s lawsuit stated: “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.”

Lauren Hirsch and Ryan Mac contributed reporting.



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