The former puppeteer behind Kermit the Frog has spoken out after being replaced earlier this week, saying in a blog post that he was fired by Disney.
In a post on Muppet Pundit on Wednesday, Steve Whitmire wrote that he was told that the famous Muppet would be recast last October, assuring fans that he would never have quit the role voluntarily.
“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. This is my life’s work since I was 19 years old. I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero.”
Whitmire took on the role in 1990 after creator Jim Henson’s death. His successor Matt Vogel — who voiced Kermit’s evil doppelganger in 2014’s “Muppets Most Wanted” — will become only the third performer to play Kermit since the character’s inception.
The Muppet’s Studio addressed Whitmire’s departure in a statement released on Wednesday: “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.”
Whitmire wrote that he was “experienced every possible emotion” since being told that he would be replaced via a phone call. “Through a new business representative, I have offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call,” he wrote. “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.”
“I have remained silent the last nine months in hopes that the Disney company might reverse their course,” he continued, adding that he believes his continued involvement would be “in the best interest” of the Muppets.
“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,” Whitmire concluded, addressing fans of the character directly.