The man who served for nearly 40 years as a puppeteer on The Muppets has issued a heartfelt blog post, detailing his distress after allegedly being fired from his role last October.
Steve Whitmire, who spent the 27 years leading up to his departure as the instantly-recognisable voice of Kermit The Frog, says “for me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion.
“They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life.”
The show veteran says that he wasn’t given the opportunity to discuss the Disney-owned Muppet Studio’s “two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call.”
After being told of their “issues” – which have not yet been detailed – Whitmire says he offered the head honchos what he believed to be suitable solutions. However, the Studio moved ahead with their decision to recast Kermit.
“I wish that we could have sat down, looked each other in the eye, and discussed what was on their minds before they took such a drastic action,” Whitmire says.
Whitmire’s past nine months have been spent outside of the spotlight. He explained he chose not to go public on his firing on the off-chance the Studio changed its course, but that wasn’t to be.
Despite his axing, he says “doing what is best for the Muppets is the lens through which all my interactions have been filtered,” and that “I feel my continued involvement with the characters is in the best interest of the Muppets.”
As if this whole ordeal hadn’t already given you unexpectedly heavy feelings for a show you may have stopped watching at the age of seven, cop Whitmire’s absolutely heartfelt message to Muppet mastermind and mentor, Jim Henson:
“I was invited to sit at the feet of the true masters, Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, and Dave Goelz; working alongside them, absorbing different skills from each, as we, along with many talented others, contributed towards the same shared vision, the vision of one man…
“I just want you all to know that I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point throughout our journey, and to let everyone know that I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero.”
In a statement provided to The Hollywood Reporter, Disney says “The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”
Matt Vogel, who played Kermit’s doppelganger Constantine in Muppets Most Wanted, will replace Whitmire. His first official Kermit gig will be filmed next week.