After serving as the voice of Kermit the Frog for 27 years, actor and longtime Muppets vet Steve Whitmire didn’t hold back on his feelings about being let go. Now Disney is telling its side of the story. In a statement via the Hollywood Reporter, the company says that the decision to fire Whitmire “was a difficult one” and was done with the “full support” of the Henson family. The statement only vaguely referenced Whitmire’s “unacceptable business conduct” over the years that he "consistently failed to address," but an unnamed insider told THR that the actor was "overly hostile and unproductive" and that his negotiation tactics delayed production. Whitmire, who was asked to voice Kermit after Jim Henson’s death in 1990, spoke out again to THR on his side of the story.
"I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney," Whitmire says, adding that though he has respect for everyone involved in the franchise, "at the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets." Whitmire cited an instance where he spoke out about a scene in which Kermit lied to his nephew Robin, something he didn’t think fit with the character. Ultimately, the script was not changed. Matt Vogel, who will take over voice duties of the famous frog, has the well wishes of his predecessor. "He’s very talented with the Muppets," Whitmire says. "The performers are my brothers, my family of choice. That includes Matt, and the hardest part of this is knowing we probably will never work together again." (More Kermit the Frog stories.)