Legendary Muppet Performer Frank Oz Says Disney “Doesn’t Want Him” To Return to Classic Characters

In an interview with The Guardian, legendary Muppet Performer and Director of classic films like Little Shop of Horrors and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels Frank Oz shared why he hasn’t returned to the Muppets.

What’s Happening:

  • The Guardian’s Hadley Freeman spoke with legendary Muppet performer Frank Oz about his illustrious career, performing the roles of Fozzie Bear and Miss Piggy (among others) for the Muppets, as well as Yoda in the Star Wars films. They even talked about the films he directed, like Bowfinger, Little Shop of Horrors, and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
  • One standout moment in the interview however, was when Freeman incorrectly assumed Oz had retired from performing the Muppets, with Oz responding that “he’d love to do the Muppets again but Disney doesn’t want me, and Sesame Street hasn’t asked me for 10 years. They don’t want me because I won’t follow orders and I won’t do the kind of Muppets they believe in.”
  • Oz also noted the “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. 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.”
  • Oz also reflected a lot on his professional and personal relationship with Muppets creator Jim Henson, who died in 1990 at the age of 53, but Oz suggested “The Disney deal is probably what killed Jim. It made him sick. Eisner was trying to get Sesame Street, too, which Jim wouldn’t allow. But Jim was not a dealer, he was an artist, and it was destroying him, it really was.”
  • When Henson died, he was negotiating with then-CEO Michael Eisner regarding the sale of Henson’s Muppet characters after successful partnerships resulting in the popular MuppetVision 3D experience at Disney Parks and other Muppet projects at the time. Disney eventually acquired the Muppets in 2004, but failed to acquire the Sesame Street characters.
  • While no longer performing any Muppet roles, Oz has returned as Yoda for the Star Wars films, as well as video games for the venerable franchise like the recent Star Wars: Tales from the Galaxy’s Edge. He has also provided small roles in Pixar films, performing the role of Fungus in Monsters, Inc. and one of the subconscious guards in Inside Out alongside fellow Muppet performer Dave Goelz, in a recording session that Pixar Producer Jonas Rivera reportedly said was “one of the most inefficient recording sessions we've done.”