Kermit the Frog is getting a new voice. After 27 years crooning as the beloved character, Steve Whitmire is leaving the role, a Muppets spokesperson confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.
Performer Matt Vogel will take over as the famous Muppet, according to THR, adding that his first appearance as the character will be in a “Muppets Thought of the Week” video next week. Vogel has been a Muppet performer since 1996 and has also appeared on 30 Rock, Jimmy Kimmel Live and Saturday Night Live.
Whitmire, 57, took over the role following the death of Muppets creator Jim Henson in 1990. Whitmire was reportedly selected by Henson’s son Brian to inherit the character.
Muppet fan site Tough Pigs was the first to report the news that Whitmire would be leaving the series. No reasoning for Whitmire’s departure has been announced. The actor also voiced Ernie from 1990-2014, among other roles.
In recent years, Kermit’s popularity has extended beyond the Muppets into popular memes on social media. In a now-viral image, an “evil Kermit” dressed in a black hoodie acts as a bad influence on the normal Kermit in a series of hilarious depictions of everyday life. In another meme, Kermit is pictured sipping tea while different variations of user-generated text calls out the irony in common situations.
Kermit confirmed to reporters in August 2015 that he had split from longtime love Miss Piggy. “Piggy and I have gone our separate ways, romantically,” the muppet said. “It can be tough to work with your ex, especially if your ex is a pig.”