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