The actor reveals why he was fired from The Muppets.
The reasons behind Steve Whitmire's sudden dismissal from The Muppets franchise as the voice of Kermit the Frog have finally been uncovered, with Disney officials citing his unacceptable workplace conduct while the actor denies having ever been reprimanded in the past for his behaviour.
Kermit and Miss Piggy at 'Muppets Most Wanted' premiere
The internet reacted with shock when it was announced that the voice of Kermit, Steve Whitmire, was being replaced after 27 years by Matt Vogel. More shock came when it was revealed that he'd actually been fired, and that he was certainly dedicated to staying with the role if it were down to him.
Unfortunately, it was a series of actions that his bosses deemed 'disrespectful' that caused Steve to be let go, mainly surrounding matters of communication and pay. He revealed his side of the story in an interview with the New York Times.
'They were uncomfortable with the way I had handled giving notes to one of the top creative executives on the series', Steve confessed. 'Nobody was yelling and screaming or using inappropriate language or typing in capitals. It was strictly that I was sending detailed notes. I don't feel that I was, in any way, disrespectful by doing that.'
In regards to the pay issue, this was down to a Muppets video shoot back in 2015 where he and the Screen Actors Guild were in disagreement with Disney over how much they ought to be paid for the small project, with Steve eventually declining to take part upon the advice of the union.
Despite the fact that Steve told them that he would avoid giving feedback and speaking to the union during contract negotiations in the future, his dismissal was final. 'I've been laying awake at night for nine months trying to empathize with a position of ending somebody's career over issues that seem to me to be so easily solved', he said.
'He played brinkmanship very aggressively in contract negotiations', said Jim Henson's daughter and President of the Jim Henson Company, Lisa Henson. She also added that he pointedly refused to have an understudy for Kermit, despite it being necessary for 'B-level performances, such as a ribbon-cutting'.
Chairman and Jim Henson's son Brian Henson revealed that, 'He'd send emails and letters attacking everyone, attacking the writing and attacking the director.'
Muppets Studio head Debbie McClellan insisted that a resolution had been attempted many times before. 'We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years, and he consistently failed to address the feedback', she said.