It’s not easy being green, especially when you’ve been replaced. Steve Whitmire has voiced everyone’s favorite green frog ever since he took over the role from Jim Henson following his death in 1990. That’s 27 years of bringing the ever-popular character to life in numerous movies and in more than just voice, but with hand gestures as well.
According to Whitmire, The Muppet Studio informed him as far back as October that he would be recast, but he kept quiet on the matter in case Disney Studios decided to reverse that decision. Despite his urging and promises to amend what issues the company had with his performance, the puppeteer finally announced that he will no longer be voicing Kermit.
“For me, the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion,” Whitmire wrote on his personal blog. “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.”
Kermit wasn’t the only character that Whitmire voiced. Characters like Rizzo the Rat and one-half of the grumpy critics Statler and Waldorf are just some of the characters that he’s influenced with his voice.
Said the studio in a statement, “We thank Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and the Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.” They’ve also announced that Matt Vogel — already a Muppets veteran who has voiced characters like Big Bird and Count von Count — will take over the role.