Frank Oz: ‘Disney Doesn’t Want Me’ Involved with ‘Muppets,’ Has Taken Soul Out of Franchise

Frank Oz: "[There’s a] demarcation line between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets."
Frank Oz
Frank Oz
Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

Frank Oz revealed in a new interview with The Guardian that he has not been involved with “The Muppets” over the last several years because Disney, which bought the rights to the franchise in 2004, is not interested in working with him. Oz, the iconic puppeteer and voice actor behind Yoda and the director of  “What About Bob?” and “Little Shop of Horrors,” was a mainstay in “The Muppets” franchise as the voice of Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, Sam Eagle, Animal, and Marvin Suggs in various film and television projects.

“I’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me, and ‘Sesame Street’ hasn’t asked me for 10 years,” 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.”

On “Sesame Street,” Oz voiced Bert, Grover, and Cookie Monster. But he no longer watches either franchise that he once called home, and he is blunt about the reason why: “The soul’s not there. The soul is what makes things grow and be funny. But I miss them and love them.”

Oz points to Disney’s acquisition of the Muppets characters in 2004 as ruining his once beloved franchise. “[There’s a] demarcation line between the Jim Henson Muppets and the Disney Muppets,” he told The Guardian. “There’s an inability for corporate America to understand the value of something they bought. 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.”

During a conversation at the 2019 SXSW Film Festival, Oz called “Sesame Street” a “shadow of what it was because now they’re just aiming it to little kids. And I’m unhappy about that. I would like to be there. I used to go like two days a year just to show everybody how it used to be.” Oz added that Disney’s recent “Muppets” movies just aren’t as connected to their predecessors as he would like them to be.

“I thought the first one [James Bobin’s 2011 entry] was really smarmy,” Oz said. “These are my brothers and sisters working in the movie and they didn’t have a good time. When we did movies, we had a great time because Jim was collaborative. That is not what happened in the first movie,” Oz said. “I thought there was wonderful things in it, but in general…I start to vomit when things get over-sentimental and sweet. It’s all because Disney doesn’t understand purity.”

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