Kermit the Frog is getting a new voice, reports the AP. ABC News and the Hollywood Reporter report that Steve Whitmire has left his role as the voice behind the iconic Muppet. Whitmire has voiced the character since Muppets creator Jim Henson's death in 1990. Per ABC, Whitmire's first IMDb credit was for 1979's The Muppet Movie, and most recently, he lent his voice to Kermit, Beaker, and other Muppets characters in the ABC series The Muppets. Whitmire always said he didn't want his Kermit to be a carbon copy of Henson's, but a natural evolution. "If you play my voice next to Jim's voice, they're not the same," he said in a past interview, per ABC. "The No. 1 goal in trying to continue a character like Kermit was to make sure that the character stayed ... consistent, but didn't become stale."
A Muppets Studio spokeswoman tells the outlets that longtime Muppets performer Matt Vogel will be taking over the role. Vogel also has a long career in voice work, with IMDb noting he's been in nearly 60 Sesame Street episodes since the late '80s and also worked on The Muppets series. In addition to Kermit, Whitmire had voiced grumpy critic Statler, Rizzo the Rat, and other Muppets. Representatives for Disney, which owns Muppets Studio, didn't immediately return a request for comment Tuesday about the motivation behind the move. (Read more Kermit the Frog stories.)