Disney Says It Had the ‘Full Support’ of Henson Family in Firing the Voice of Kermit

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Photo: Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Vulture Festival

The former voice of Kermit the Frog, Steve Whitmire, is moving beyond his personal blog and discussing his recent firing with The Hollywood Reporter. According to a new interview, the voice actor said he was let go by Disney for offering unwanted notes during production of the Muppets reboot series, as well as a union disagreement. “The first issue was that they felt I had been ‘disrespectful’ in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series,” Whitmire told THR. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney [2004], but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets.”

What sorts of insights is he talking about? An example: Whitmire took issue with the fact that in the ABC show, Kermit lied to his nephew, Robin, because the actor considers the iconic felt frog to be “too compassionate” for such a deception. He also thinks the show might have been spared cancellation if the studio had listened more closely to the Muppet talent. “I am not saying my notes would have saved it, but I think had they listened more to all of the performers, it would have made a really big difference.”

The company, meanwhile, is alleging through “a source close to the studio” that Whitmire was “overly hostile and unproductive.” “We raised concerns about Steve’s repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback,” a Muppets Studio spokesperson said in a statement. “The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support.” Whitmire is still surprised his 39-year relationship with the Muppets was so abruptly terminated, and wishes he had been given the chance to “correct my course” and stay with the character. Ultimately, though, he still just seems to love the Muppets more than anything. “The look he brings into the eyes of anyone of any age who meets him in person,” Whitmire said when describing Kermit. “I can’t take credit for that, but have been truly honored to keep Jim’s spirit intact.”

Disney Says Henson Family Supported Firing Voice of Kermit