Frank Oz, the voice of Fozzie Bear and Star Wars character Yoda, claims that Disney no longer wants him to be involved with the Muppets, and he criticizes the company’s soulless portrayal of the characters. Oz is the man who gave life to the funny Muppet comedian Fozzie Bear, in addition to delivering the voice of Star Wars Jedi Master Yoda. In the 1970s, he was also the original voice of Miss Piggy, Animal, and Sam Eagle on The Muppet Show. Oz also provided voices for Sesame Street characters such as Cookie Monster, Bert, and Grover.
The Muppeteer and film director recently told the Guardian that Disney has kicked him out of Muppets projects.
“I’d love to do the Muppets again, but Disney doesn’t want me,” Oz said. “They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in.”
He went on to blast Disney for taking the “soul” out of the Muppets. “The soul’s not there. The soul is what makes things grow and be funny.”
The Muppets property was purchased by the Walt Disney Company in 2004 but Oz says there is a “demarcation line between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets. There’s an inability for corporate America to understand the value of something they bought,” he continued. “They never understood, with us, it’s not just about the puppets, it’s about the performers who love each other and have worked together for many years.”
Disney wrangled with Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, for years and was in the midst of talks when the legendary puppeteer died in 1990 of streptococcal toxic shock syndrome. And Oz believes that the difficult discussions may have contributed to Henson’s death.
“The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim,” Oz said. “It made him sick.” Oz has already criticized the Disney version of the Muppets. Oz was critical of the film The Muppets when it was released in 2011, saying “I wasn’t happy with the script, I don’t think they respected the characters.”