Even the Hollywood Reporter is pulling no punches. This illustration by Hartley Lin topped their article on the situation.
Lucasfilm’s firing of The Mandalorian’s Gina Carano was a long time in coming.
While Anakin Skywalker’s fall to the dark side took about three hours of screen time, it appears that actress Gina Caralano’s fall from the Star Wars universe had been playing out behinds the scenes over the course of a few months. The actress, who had achieved huge success as the veteran Rebel ex-drop trooper Cara Dune in the Disney+ series The Mandalorian had become a headache for the Lucasfilm team with a string of inflammatory and false tweets. The nature of these social media posts is very well documented by now, but it’s worth noting that they undoubtedly ran afoul of the morals clause in her contract with Disney. A morals clause generally holds the actor to certain behavioral standards “so as to not bring disrepute, contempt or scandal to other individual or party to the contract and their interests.” In short, it is about protecting the brand by preserving its public and private image. And even the most casual fan of Lucasfilm’s parent company, Disney, knows that it is extremely protective of its brands. Needless to say, one of their rising stars posting conspiracy theories, transphobic and other politically charged material that brings a loud backlash is a violation of that clause.
It’s not “cancel culture” it’s consequences
Even though Gina Carano had been making such posts since late summer, it appears that Lucasfilm was very reluctant to take action. Disney fired Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn mere days in July 2018 after years-old tweets he made were revealed as part of the metoo movement. Gina’s infamous tweet over pronouns for transexuals took place in September, but was followed in a few by a partial walk-back where she explained that her Mandalorian co-star, Pedro Pascal had explained why it mattered. However, she thereafter continued to mock masking and criticize the Black Lives Matter movement before spreading false information about the election in November. While that would have been seen as crossing the line of the morals clause, the second season of The Mandalorian was streaming. Much as the company had done with Mulan star Liu Yifei who tweeted support for Hong Kong police as they cracked down on pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong, and Black Panther‘s Letitia Wright who shared a UK minister’s claims about vaccine safety as well as disparaging trans people, Disney kept publicly quiet to allow it to blow over. However, numerous witnesses reported to The Hollywood Reporter that Gina was warned about her posts multiple times.
But what about those other guys?
Why did James Gunn get rehired, Liu Yifei and Letitia Wright get left alone while Gina Caralano get fired? Attitude. In the days following his firing, James repeatedly stated that “Disney absolutely had the right to fire” him over the posts which joked about rape and pedophilia and took full responsibility, saying that they were indefensible. Additionally, he got a lot of support from the Guardians of the Galaxy cast along with other MCU actors. Liu avoided further controversial posts while Letitia deleted her social media accounts. In other words, while they stopped damaging the brand and, in James’ case apologized, Gina kept doubling down. In a recent interview, she revealed that she refused to issue an apology worded by Disney in response to the transphobic post, offering one of her own that was seen as half-hearted. As a result, she did not do any publicity work in advance of the new season of her show.
Before the first episode of season 2 of the Mandalorian aired at the end of October, Lucasfilm execs were done with her. During their Investor Day presentation 11 days later Disney announced a whole slew of new Star Wars shows including Rangers of the New Republic. While no details were revealed about the new show except that there would be a crossover with the Ahsoka series and The Mandalorian, it was widely believed that Cara Dune would be an integral part of it. Yet, her name was notably absent from any of the releases. And it was since reported that a segment of the presentation had been planned that would center on her, but that it was not produced. At the time, her agents at UTA were working to get her an increase in pay from the $25,000-50,000 per episode she was receiving and land a new contract for season 3. Two months later, not only is it clear that Gina Carano will not be back for a third season or a spinoff, but her agency is also done with her having fired her the same day that Disney announced she would not be back. Her PR firm also ended their partnership with her.
I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if a career and a character was suddenly destroyed…
Gina Carano was not fired by John Favreau, the mastermind behind the various Star Wars shows, instead it reportedly came from the top execs at Lucasfilm, and it is expected that it will have severe financial consequences. While Gina had already had a lucrative career in mixed martial arts before retiring in 2009 and taking up acting in 2011 with roles in films including Fast & Furious 6 and Deadpool, it would appear that her upward climb has been stalled, if not halted. While her personal net worth is estimated to be $8 million thanks to her two careers as well as family involvement of the Eldorado Resort properties in Las Vegas, she has not only lost out on seven-digit incomes from any future Star Wars shows, she has lost out on any further income from Cara Dune merchandise. A day after it was announced that she was banished from a galaxy far, far away, toy maker Hasbro announced that they were cancelling production of existing Cara Dune figures as well as cancelling pre-release orders for the 6″ Black Series premium figure. Up and down the toy aisle, from Topps Star Wars cards on up, no further products with her likeness will be released. As she would be getting residuals from any licensed products with her likeness, it was a hard slamming of the door by a company whose press statement called her posts “abhorrent and unacceptable.
Indeed, this week Disney made it clear that the character of Cara Dune would also not be recast. This will come as a disappointment for the many girls who saw the character as an inspiration, both for her strength as well as for not being the stereotypical, petite, female lead – but with literally a whole galaxy to work with, it can be expected that Favreau will create someone equally compelling.
Without an agent and a tarred reputation, it is hard to imagine that Gina Carano will see any job in the near future with as lucrative a paycheck or career advancement. While she has since announced plans to partner with Conservative figure Ben Shapiro to produce a movie for subscribers to his fringe Daily Wire website, it is impossible for that to even come close to making up the financial damage. Hollywood loves a comeback story, but that requires acknowledgement and contrition. At least for the foreseeable future, Gina has been effectively blacklisted as a result of her actions.
The response from the political right was an attempt to get the #canceldisneyplus hashtag trending, but that effort has yielded little result measurable result. Disney announced that they had achieved 94.9 million subscribers as of January 2 of this year. That is juggernaut-grade growth of 8 million new subscribers since subscriber numbers were last announced in December. While they are in the business of making dreams, Disney is nonetheless a business. Their corporate accountants are among the very best, and the clear calculus is that they do not need to cater to the far-right as the rest of the audience is so much bigger.