Muppets fans, you may need to sit down for this one.
Steve Whitmire, the man who's voiced Kermit the Frog for the past 27 years, has been fired, People reports. Though outlets such as NPR reported earlier this week that The Muppets Studio didn't provide an explanation for the sudden decision, Whitmire has written a statement on his personal blog that aims to clear the air.
"For me the Muppets are not just a job, or a career, or even a passion. They are a calling, an urgent, undeniable, impossible to resist way of life," Whitmire wrote. "This is my life's work since I was 19 years old. I feel that I am at the top of my game, and I want all of you who love the Muppets to know that I would never consider abandoning Kermit or any of the others because to do so would be to forsake the assignment entrusted to me by Jim Henson, my friend and mentor, but even more, my hero."
Though Whitmire started voicing Kermit in 1990 after Jim Henson handed down the role, he has been part of the Muppets family since 1978. The puppet master continued his blog by stating that he's known about the change since October 2016, when he got a call notifying him that the studio planned to recast his part. Whitmire admitted he "offered multiple remedies to their two stated issues which had never been mentioned to me prior to that phone call."
"I wish that we could have sat down, looked each other in the eye, and discussed what was on their minds before they took such a drastic action," he wrote.
But after nine months, Whitmire learned that Disney wouldn't be changing its mind. Despite his sadness, he wrote that he remains "willing to do whatever is required to remedy their concerns because I feel my continued involvement with the characters is in the best interest of the Muppets."
Towards the end of his post Whitmire called out to fans directly, saying he created the blog to be a space for every fan to come to talk about "all things Muppet."
"I just want you all to know that I am sorry if I have disappointed any of you at any point throughout our journey, and to let everyone know that I am devastated to have failed in my duty to my hero."
A spokesperson released the following statement on Whitmire's departure: "The Muppets Studio thanks Steve for his tremendous contributions to Kermit the Frog and The Muppets franchise. We wish him well in his future endeavors."
Going forward, Matt Vogel will voice the beloved green frog.
Fans have reacted to the jarring news on Twitter: