By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Actor Gina Carano sued Walt Disney for wrongful termination from Star Wars series "The Mandalorian" in a lawsuit filed on Tuesday and backed by billionaire Elon Musk.
Carano argued in the suit that she was fired in 2021 for voicing conservative opinions on social media platforms including Twitter, which is now owned by Musk and known as X.
"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," said the lawsuit, which was filed in federal court in California.
She also claimed sex discrimination, arguing that male stars who voiced opinions did not suffer any consequences.
Carano, who played warrior Cara Dune, is asking the court to order Disney's Lucasfilm unit to reinstate her in the role and seeks compensatory damages of up to $75,000 plus emotional distress and punitive damages to be determined at trial.
A Disney spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Musk, who hurled an expletive at Disney CEO Bob Iger in September when the company pulled advertising from X, said last year that he would fund legal action by users who faced retaliation from employers for comments on the platform.
"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," said Joe Benarroch, X's head of business operations.
Disney removed Carano from "The Mandalorian" over social media posts that the company at the time called "abhorrent and unacceptable" for "denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities."
"Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors ... even by children," Carano wrote on Instagram, according to a Variety report at the time.
Carano also came under fire for Twitter posts in which she derided mask-wearing during the pandemic and echoed false claims of voter fraud during the 2020 presidential election.
Musk, founder of Tesla and SpaceX, himself generated a backlash for liking an anti-Jewish post on X in September, prompting advertisers including Disney to pause spending on the platform.
(Reporting by Lisa Richwine, Editing by Rosalba O'Brien)