'Kermit the Frog' Voice Actor Abruptly Axed After 27 Years: 'So Much Hope is Gone'

Steve Whitmire struggled to hold back tears as he spoke for the first time since being let go as the voice of the popular Muppet amphibian.

The actor who has been the voice behind one of The Muppets' most popular characters for 27 years is devastated after being fired.

“I was so stunned,” Whitmire told Inside Edition. 

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Whitmire, 57, believes he was given the ax because he voiced complaints about the direction Kermit was going in the short-lived ABC Show, The Muppets.

“So much hope is gone,” he said. “It’s hard to put into words.”

Whitmire is the second voice of Kermit, taking the reins from Muppets creator Jim Henson following his death in 1990.

Inside Edition spoke with Henson’s oldest daughter, Lisa, who is currently the CEO of the Jim Henson Company.

Whitmire will be replaced by veteran Muppets performer, Matt Vogel, who voiced an evil Kermit look-alike in the 2014 film, Muppets Most Wanted.

But that is little consolation to Whitmire, who called his role more than "just a job."

“I think it’s fair to say, I am Kermit and Kermit is me,” Whitmire said.

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But execs cited "unacceptable" behavior for Whitmire's ouster.

"The role of Kermit the Frog is an iconic one that is beloved by fans and we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of that character very seriously," a spokesperson for The Muppets Studio said in a statement.

"We raised concerns about Steve's repeated unacceptable business conduct over a period of many years and he consistently failed to address the feedback.

"The decision to part ways was a difficult one which was made in consultation with the Henson family and has their full support." 

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