Earlier this week, we reported that longtime Kermit The Frog puppeteer Steve Whitmire had stepped down from his gig, a development that was notable both because Whitmire had been playing Kermit since just weeks after Jim Henson died in 1990 and because we had no idea why he was leaving. Now, Whitmire has released a statement on the end of his time with The Muppets, and in it he very clearly suggests that he was quietly fired by Disney last year.
You can read his full statement here, and in it he makes a point to explain how important The Muppets—and Jim Henson—are to him, noting that he “would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others” because doing so would “forsake the assignment” that Jim Henson gave to him. He says executives from The Muppets Studio called him back in October to say that they were recasting Kermit, and though he suggested “multiple remedies,” nothing made the Muppet people budge.
Interestingly, while Whitmire’s statement does answer some of the questions about what happened, there’s still more going on here than what we know about. He alludes to “two stated issues” that “had never been mentioned” before he got that phone call, but other than saying that he’s willing to do anything he can to fix those issues, he doesn’t offer any other details on what they may be. Whatever they are, though, they were enough to convince Disney that it should fire the guy who voiced Kermit The Frog over the phone.