Kermit Actor Fired

Kermit Actor Fired for 'Unacceptable Conduct,' Muppets Studio Explains

Steve Whitmire may no longer be voicing Kermit the Frog, but he’s hardly remaining silent.

First, some background: News broke last week that Whitmire, who has brought the felt-skinned favorite to life for the past 27 years, was being replaced by another actor named Matt Vogel. Whitmire says he’s been with The Muppets Studio for 39 years.

In an interview published by The Hollywood Reporter on Monday, Whitmire said he was given two reasons for his termination: In addition to being too outspoken about the direction of his character in recent years, especially when it came to ABC’s short-lived Muppets series (2015–2016), he was also engaged in a union-related dispute.

Whitmire defended the first reason, telling THR, “We have been doing these characters for a long, long time and we know them better than anybody. I thought I was aiding to keep it on track, and I think a big reason why the show was canceled was because that didn’t happen.”

Now, The Muppets Studio is responding with a statement:

The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously. We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback. The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.

Vogel will begin voicing Kermit with the release of a video scheduled to run online this week.

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Daya says:

    I saw Mistress Henson on Inside Edition and she was right snotty about the whole issue. I acknowledge that she’s The Heir; but she also needs to acknowledge the input of her actors if they think their characters are going off the rails. I trust Vogel will do a good job (who doesn’t like the Count, after all?), but the whole thing just rots, especially since they fired Whitmire so suddenly.

    • Luke says:

      Who doesn’t like the Count? … I don’t like Vogel, he can’t voice the Muppets, he’s a poor choice to voice any of them, ESPECIALLY KERMIT!!!! He can’t voice the count either.

    • jj says:

      I don’t think it can be classified as being fired suddenly. By his own account, these issues were raised to him months ago. Seems the build up to this firing has been in the works for a long time.

    • jj says:

      I don’t think it can be classified as being fired suddenly. By his own account, these issues were raised to him months ago. Seems the build up to this firing has been in the works for a long time.

    • TheDuck0 says:

      Ms. Henson is under absolutely no obligation to do anything with the input of her actors if she doesn’t choose to. That doesn’t mean it’d be a smart thing to do, but she doesn’t have to listen to what they have to say.

      Additionally, there are ways to voice concerns, some of which are inappropriate. If Mr. Whitmire’s communications were unprofessional (and not having seen them, we don’t know whether they were or not) and he was warned about them (as both Disney and Mr. Whitmire say he was), firing may have been the only option. (And keep in mind, Big Name Actor can be a jerk, because he/she is considered irreplaceable. Actor no one sees doesn’t have the same protection: after all, they replaced Jim Henson after his untimely death. This is why burning bridges is usually a bad idea.)

      This isn’t a pleasant situation by any means, but things happen, and sometimes people lose their jobs. But I don’t think we know (or will ever know) what happened behind the scenes…

      • Billy Bob Johnson says:

        Most likely he said things in a direct and probably not-so-nice way about how Disney and the Hensons were ruining the brand that Jim Henson built. Corporate types don’t like mouthy people. You get some warnings, then they can you.

      • Daya says:

        What I don’t know–and maybe you’ve done your research and I haven’t–is whether or not she was actively involved in the operation of the show (which I doubt) or whether she was just making these comments as a company bigshot. (I feel like it’s the latter, because it seems a lot like when the district manager gets involved with the store and they have no idea what’s going on.) But what do I know? I’m not behind the scenes at the Henson Company and I know nothing of their business.

  2. The Muppets was probably one of the most frustrated shows of recent memory. I actually liked the first half of the season when it had a bit more bite and adult situations (except Denise. Bah.) Then people complained it was TOO adult and reset it to more to something people expect from the Muppets and in turn made it pretty bland. I am wondering what Whitmore was “protecting” Kermit from outside of a pig.

  3. Haz says:

    Something needs to happen because considering the muppets are on life support. The failure of Muppets Most Wanted followed by the failure of the show hopefully will lead to someone making some changes. Does anyone recall when they had Miss Piggy on Chelsea Lately?!? The “interview” was cringe worthy and Handler was blitzed out of her mind! I understand the Muppets appeal to all ages but I mean come on.

  4. Michael says:

    The Muppets and Disney was never a good idea. Ever since Disney acquired them, they really have had no idea how to fold them into the Disney brand and the Muppets have suffered. If the Muppets are ever going to successfull again they will have to break away from Disney

  5. Billy Bob Johnson says:

    ‘Unacceptable Conduct’. Translation – He was trying to keep the character’s original integrity and Disney wanted the drek that was The Muppets (2015) TV show. Disney doesn’t care about Jim Henson (and his kids don’t, either). They just want another cash cow.

  6. keniri says:

    Disney sure keeps digging their hole deeper. When is this studio going to realize that no matter how many times they comment, they just keep looking bad in the press. They keep picking at the wound and they should realize that nobody believes their pathetic excuses in trying to spin this story so that it looks favorable to their company. Disney needs to keep their mouth shut and realize that they may have made a mistake.

  7. timonsmit says:

    First I was shocked to hear Whitmire was fired. Then I heard the reason, how he made Kermit a depressed and bitter frog. So i watched interviews with Kermit performed bij Jim and compared them to the ones by Steve. And i hate to say it… but they have a point.

  8. Jim J. says:

    This is just like the WWE: If you speak out against the creative direction of your character, you will be fired on the spot, period. :(