Steve Whitmire continues to weigh in on getting fired by Disney as the voice of Kermit the Frog after 27 years.
Whitmire, who announced earlier this month that Muppets Studio replaced him by Matt Vogel, told CNN on Tuesday that he felt “absolute shock” when he learned that he was losing his job.
“It was exactly the same feeling as the moment I was told [Muppets creator] Jim [Henson] had died,” Whitmire said. “It was the worst thing that could happen to this character. It’s not the worst thing that could happen to me, although it’s pretty bad.”
The performer said he was never given an inkling that the studio was considering letting him go: “If anything had been framed to be as your career’s on the line over any particular event, then I would have paid attention.”
Whitmire acknowledges that many fans might not be able to tell that Kermit has a new voice.
“I think there are people who will notice — I think Disney knows that the vast majority of people probably won’t,” he continued. “I think if it jumps around on the screen, and it’s green, and it says the right catchphrases, unfortunately, people are going to see it as Kermit.”
Muppets Studio released a statement last week saying that the puppeteer was fired for “unacceptable business conduct.” Brian Henson, who is Jim’s son and chairman of the Jim Henson Company, told the New York Times that Whitmire sent messages “attacking everyone, attacking the writing and attacking the director,” during his time as Kermit.