Former Kermit the Frog puppeteer Steve Whitmire has finally spoken out about his unexpected firing from Muppets, saying he was “stunned” after being told the devastating news, RadarOnline.com can reveal.
In an interview with TODAY, Whitmire said producers gave him “no advanced warning” on the incident.
“Nothing had ever been framed to me as a career-breaking problem,” he added.
He then revealed that not only did he not expect to get fired, but he actually thought he would be receiving a promotion!
“We had been talking prior to that, for the two years before that, about me becoming sort of a creative producer with them, working alongside the two executives who I spoke to where I would’ve been a part of the day-to-day decision on the Muppets and I was thrilled about that,” said Whitmire.
He claimed that three days before his firing, he had been part of a conference call with all the other performers on how things would continue on the show.
“In terms of the character stuff, of Kermit having become stale or bitter, it’s not true,” he claimed.
When asked if he was difficult to work with and believed he couldn’t be fired because he was the epitome of Kermit, Whitmire assured: ‘That’s an arrogance that’s just not in my body.”
According to the longtime puppeteer, Disney was ready to offer him a variety of “consolation prizes” if only he agreed to frame the situation as a friendly retirement rather than a rash firing.
“It was just disingenuous,” he said, “I couldn’t bring myself to do it.”
As Radar previously reported, Brian Henson, the son of Kermit legend Jim Henson, spoke out about the incident, saying Whitmire stayed in his role for “far too long.”
“I am very glad we have done this now. I think the character is better served to remove this destructive energy around it,” he said.
Previously, Debbie McClellan, head of Muppets in Disney claimed to the New York Post that the puppeteer was let go due to “repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years.”
The news broke lose after nine months of Whitmire’s firing, when he discussed his feelings in an emotional post, apologizing to fans for having “failed” his duty as a hero.