Matt Vogel Makes Debut as New Voice of Kermit the Frog
The new voice of the Muppets‘ Kermit the Frog has just been unveiled.
About a month after it was reported that Disney was replacing Kermit the Frog voice actor Steve Whitmire, Matt Vogel’s first performance of the character has taken place via a YouTube video. The official The Muppets YouTube channel has been uploading short “Muppet Thought of the Week” videos over the past few months, and this week’s features the new Kermit.
Matt Vogel’s Kermit voice is noticeably different from the Steve Whitmire voice used for almost three decades, but it is a bit closer to the original Jim Henson version of the character. Although fans were sad to see Steve Whitmire replaced as Kermit, reaction to this voice has been fairly positive thus far.
Matt Vogel started working for The Jim Henson Company in 1996 as a puppeteer on Sesame Street. He lent his voice to various characters in both recent Muppets movies, The Muppets and Muppets Most Wanted. Some fans have pointed out that Kermit’s new voice sounds somewhat similar to Constantine, the Kermit imposter in Muppets Most Wanted; that’s because Matt Vogel provided the voice of Constantine in that film.
Vogel is the first person to voice Kermit the Frog who never worked with Jim Henson. While Steve Whitmire began working with Henson as an assistant on The Muppet Movie in 1979, Vogel only started with his puppeteering work after Jim Henson had died in 1990. In addition to Constantine, Vogel has also played characters like Floyd Pepper, Uncle Deadly, Lew Zealand, Crazy Harry, Robin the Frog, Sweetums, and Camilla.
In July, Steve Whitmire announced that he was being replaced as Kermit the Frog. He made clear at the time that he was fired, and he later told The Hollywood Reporter that this was due to disagreements over the character of Kermit the Frog.
“The first issue was that they felt I had been ‘disrespectful’ in being outspoken on character issues with the small group of top creative people during the ABC series,” Whitmire told The Hollywood Reporter. “I have been outspoken about what’s best for the Muppets since the Muppets came to Disney , but the fact is I have respect for everyone who was involved in the creation of that series for their own particular contributions. At the same time, I also have insight into their limitations with respect to how well they know the Muppets.”
Whitmire evidently took issue with some creative decisions made on the ABC series The Muppets. While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, he provided just one example of an episode in which Kermit lies to his nephew about his breakup with Miss Piggy; Whitmire felt that Kermit is too compassionate to lie the way he does on the show. Whitmire also said that a union issue contributed to his firing.
According to Entertainment Weekly, Disney and Muppets Studio’s explanation for the firing was that Whitmire exhibited “unacceptable business conduct.” In fact, Jim Henson’s son Brian Henson told EW that Whitmire was difficult to work with, explaining that he would “send emails and letters attacking everyone, attacking the writing and attacking the director.”
At this time, Disney’s plan for the Muppets isn’t totally clear. The ABC series The Muppets was canceled last year, and no Muppets movies are currently in development. However, some short content is continuing to be produced for the official The Muppets YouTube channel.