If you’re watching Disney Plus’s new series, Muppets Now, you may notice something’s a little different about Kermit. He sounds very different from what you might be used to. That’s because someone else is voicing Kermit the Frog — and he’s also the voice of Big Bird on Sesame Street.
Kermit Is Now Voiced by Matt Vogel
Kermit is voiced by Matt Vogel, who also voices Uncle Deadly on Muppets Now. Vogel has been voicing Kermit since 2017.
According to IMDb, he also voiced Kermit on The Muppets Take the O2 video, The Last Leg TV series, America Masters documentary in 2017, The Muppets Take the Bowl video, and more.
In 2016, Vogel voiced Floyd Pepper, Uncle Deadly, Robin, Crazy Harry, Lew Zealand, and others for The Muppets TV series of 2015-2016.
But Vogel’s voice may sound especially familiar to you because he performs Big Bird on Sesame Street. He also performs Count von Count. Vogel studied for Big Bird under Caroll Spinney since 1996. Then he took over the role and voice of Big Bird after Spinney retired at the age of 85, Hollywood Reporter reported.
Vogel told Hollywood Reporter about Big Bird: “I try to honor the original performance and the heart and soul of that character and be the best version of Big Bird that I can be.”
Vogel said he wears the same bird suit that Spinney wore and uses a thumb wire for facial expressions, but it’s a complicated process that takes years to learn.
In 2016, Vogel told BBC about portraying Big Bird: “I think the best part of being Big Bird is seeing children’s—and adults’—reaction to seeing him in person. He’s so much bigger than you think and when you’re standing next to him he towers over you, yet you feel somehow comforted. People like to hug him and get their pictures taken with him.”
Vogel Took Over for Kermit after the Previous Performer Was Fired
Steve Whitmire played Kermit for 27 years, handpicked by Jim Henson’s wife and son, Vox reported. (Henson had originally performed Kermit.) But in 2016, Disney fired Whitmire. Whitmire said in some blog posts that he didn’t have a chance to respond to complaints before he was fired. Meanwhile, Disney and Henson family members alleged that Whitmire had shown hostility to colleagues, Vox reported.
Whitmire’s last TV performance for Kermit was on the series The Muppets, which only lasted one season on ABC. Here’s Whitmire-as-Kermit in 2014.
In 2014, a Muppet named Constantine was a Kermit imposter, attempting to marry Miss Piggy while pretending to be Kermit, Vox reported. That Muppet was voiced by Vogel, who now is voicing Kermit himself.
Vogel grew up watching Sesame Street and was so inspired that he made puppeteering a career, Vox reported. So while the voice of Kermit may be a little different now, the heart behind Kermit is still fully dedicated to the character and to the entire Muppets universe.