The former MMA fighter is starring in a new Western developed by The Daily Wire, “Terror on the Prairie,” in which she plays Hattie McAllister, a tough-as-rawhide pioneer mother who defends her children from outlaws while her husband (UFC champion Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone) is away. The 40-year-old also serves as a producer.
Carano described the film as “closure” after being given the ax publicly. In February 2021, Lucasfilm announced that Carano was no longer a part of the “Star Wars” spinoff cast after many online called for her firing over a social media post that likened the experience of Jewish people during the Holocaust to the U.S. political climate.
She previously caught backlash on social media for other comments about the coronavirus, the use of gender pronouns and election fraud.
A spokesperson with the production company said at the time that Carano was no longer employed by Lucasfilm and there were “no plans for her to be in the future.”
“Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable,” the statement read.
But these days, Carano is feeling hopeful about her future, one the actress said she intends to live on her terms. Carano spoke to Fox News Digital about how she dealt with her public firing, facing cancel culture and lassoing in on a new chapter in her career.
Fox News: What was it about the role of Hattie McAllister that made you go, “I have to do this?”
Gina Carano: I’ve always wanted to do a period piece and be put in a dress, right? *laughs*. My favorite movie when I was growing up was “Pride and Prejudice.” I love those kinds of movies. And I’ve always wanted to have a horse in a movie. So when that script came across, I was like, “Well, this checks a lot of those boxes for me.”
But I was also really fascinated by the family aspect of it and being on the frontier. They’re having to fight all the time to stay alive. They’re fighting the elements. They’re fighting the outlaws. They’re even fighting each other at some point.
Fox News: Westerns are making a big comeback in Hollywood. Why do you believe people are so fascinated by this genre today?
Carano: Probably because you don’t see a ton of CGI (computer-generated imagery). It’s nature. Our set was in Montana, which is its own character. The costumes are stripped down. There’s nothing super flashy about them. It’s what you would have worn being out in the elements. And maybe Westerns are popular right now because people are sick and tired of watching TV where everything is like Skittles. It’s all these huge, big, bright colors, CGI and superheroes. Westerns are the complete opposite. And I think people are craving something real now.
“When I was canceled, I felt like everything was turned against me. Everything that I loved was just against me. I was fighting for my name.”
Fox News: You previously said that this film’s release felt “like closure of a particularly painful experience in my life” and “becoming Hattie has allowed me to wear everything that I was feeling out loud.” What did you mean by that?
Carano: When I was canceled, I felt like everything was turned against me. Everything that I loved was just against me. I was fighting for my name. I just felt like everything was stripped from me. But Hattie, she’s out there with her family. She’s trying to be a supportive wife, but she’s removed from her home and it’s hard. Everything has been stripped from her. The elements have turned against her. She and her husband aren’t in the best place. They’re arguing back and forth and the baby’s crying.
I just felt it was a really good time for me to access the pain that I was feeling in my personal life and wear it quietly. Because that’s how I felt inside. It was nice that the character had that in it, and I could kind of use that as therapy, just to let my hurt show in a way that I was doing in life anyway. I think it really added to my character.
Fox News: Some people have said that cancel culture has gone too far, while others have said cancel culture is needed because it holds people accountable. As someone who experienced it, how do you feel about cancel culture?
Carano: I feel like cancel culture is extremely dangerous. I think it starts putting us on the line of kind of like a social credit score. And … corporations are going to win that battle. They’re going to win the social credit score. They’re going to win the popularity battle because they have access to manipulating even the data, but they have access to manipulating the masses, whereas that robs from the individual.
So I think that we need to look at things more individually, case by case … I understand that some companies don’t want to associate themselves with some people. I might not want to either. I understand when people are fired. But when a company’s preaching about being inclusive to all people, and they’re not, they’re just telling one side of the story, and they’re just telling … they’re alienating half of, if not more, the country, I think that we’ve run into a big problem.
In my case, I don’t think that anything I did deserved cancel culture. I don’t think that it deserved being smeared by the Hollywood press. But I understand now how that machine works. I understand how awful the media has been in perpetuating this awful bullying and lies. They can just rain that down on you and not have any of it be true. I feel like this was a genuine case of cancel culture for not toeing the narrative line … There’s consequences. You can’t just act a fool with your employer. I don’t think that was the case [with me]. But I do feel like people are speaking up [for] my case.
“I feel like cancel culture is extremely dangerous. I think it starts putting us on the line of kind of like a social credit score.”
But even if somebody does make a mistake or something, there should be some amount of forgiveness if it was not on purpose. There should be more conversation of, “Let me explain to you what I mean there,” or, “Let’s talk about this,” so that it teaches the children and everybody else how to talk about things, and they don’t bully each other. All these companies are saying they’re against bullying. And yet, that’s all they represent — how to bully. Don’t have conversations, cancel people, pressure people.
Fox News: Were you surprised to get support during this time?
Carano: The support that I received from so many people … Never in my life would I have expected something like that. I just thought, “Life is going to be a bit harder and a little different.” But so many people came to my defense. I think a lot of them were paying attention to what really happened instead of just reading the headlines … I kept on thinking, “Gosh, I’m not a controversial person at all.” I just really felt like certain things needed to be talked about [concerning] the last couple of years.
I don’t think you should sign away your rights … your right to speech just because you’re an actress or a basketball player. I think if there’s any time to stand up for something, it’s when you feel like your country’s in massive danger of losing our constitutional rights. Normally I would just act, and I would probably be quiet. But I couldn’t do that because I felt like if I know this, and I believe this so passionately, and I keep it to myself, and I see everybody else holding their breath and not saying anything, then I felt like I would get sick. I’d hold that in and hold my breath along with everybody else.
I decided not to. And I think it was much needed. You can tell with everybody just exhaling and the support I’ve gotten – they understood. And they were just glad somebody was able to do it. So the support has just been … it makes me emotional. I’m so appreciative of the people that really listened. It really encouraged me to keep going, keep fighting. Because I do have a voice. And I do feel like I’m speaking for a lot of people when I’m doing these things that I do.
Fox News: How did you cope with the public firing?
Carano: I didn’t cope with it immediately. When I shot this movie, it was a nice distraction for me because I was able to act, I was able to play Hattie, and I was able to let a lot of that stuff out through my character. I’m my best self when I work … When I’m working, I just feel like everything is aligning right in my life. I was able to let it out through that and that felt great. But then the movie ended, it wasn’t until around Christmas that … it hit me, how real it is, how painful that was, and how I needed to really address it in myself so that I could get past it and not have to deal with bitterness in my life.
You have to deal with it. You have to know that, OK, that hurt really bad, and it’s OK to be hurt. But it’s not OK to stay there for the rest of your life. I had to address it, listen to it, forgive and move on. And with the movie coming out, I do feel like it’s closure. I get to put this beautiful piece of art out in the world. Now I get to just breathe and know there’s another adventure that’s going to be life-changing as well. I’m not going to let this moment in life define me. I’m going to close it, and then I’m going to move on.
Fox News: What’s the message you hope viewers will get when they see this movie for the first time?
Carano: The message I hope people get is that art is free. Unions are created to protect people, and Hollywood’s there to give us the best of the best, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the unions are protecting you. It doesn’t mean that Hollywood is in control of the best of the best. I do hope they see this movie as a start to having other artists and creators realize that the sky’s the limit. You don’t have to be pigeonholed or sell your soul to do what you love. If you’re doing what you love, it should replenish you.
“In my case, I don’t think that anything I did deserved cancel culture.”
Fox News: It’s been reported that some “Star Wars” fans have called out Disney for defending Moses Ingram after she received hateful messages on social media after they fired you. Do you have a comment?
Carano: I think people … saw what happened in my circumstance, and they were really offended … I think that sometimes corporations stir up things and people to keep the division going instead of bringing people together. And, sometimes, I think these corporations, they’re telling us all to get on our knees and apologize, [but] they’re not leading by example. There’s been no apology. They just wait.
So I think … [some] people are trying to say, “Hey, you want everybody else to apologize? Why don’t you start with yourselves? Why don’t you show us that you’re going to respect people of all different beliefs, all different political affiliations, all different religions, all different skin colors, all different everything? Be truly inclusive.”
And I think that’s the thing. People want these corporations to be held accountable. They think people are just going to forget what happened … I think that’s why people keep bringing up my name because they want things to be set right, and they haven’t been. I think eventually Disney’s going to have to do a little bit of a self-reflection and look at themselves and say what they’re doing is not working.
Fox News: Now that the movie is done, how are you feeling?
Carano: I hope everybody … I don’t think our leaders are really going to show us how to behave or act right. So I hope that we can all be encouraging to each other and lift each other up because this country is truly, and the world is truly going to be in a lot of pain … There’s got to be a different way to show people what true light us. We’ve got to show people a different way.
So I hope we can all do that because there’s going to be a lot of hurting people … we’re going to need to put some differences aside and agree to disagree [to] get our country and the morale back. We need to do that as people. I think art and movies can be a great thing if we… bond together a little bit more.
“Terror on the Prairie” is currently streaming on The Daily Wire. The Associated Press contributed to this report.