Sir Ian McKellen will not re-appear in West End play as veteran actor, 85, gives health update after falling from stage

20 June 2024, 14:07

Sir Ian McKellen will not re-appear in West End play as veteran actor, 85, gives health update after falling from stage
Sir Ian McKellen will not re-appear in West End play as veteran actor, 85, gives health update after falling from stage. Picture: Alamy

By Christian Oliver

Sir Ian McKellen will not return to the West End as part of the cast of Player Kings after the 85-year-old fell from the stage on Monday.

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The thespian revealed he is having physiotherapy as he takes a break from performing to recuperate following the accident.

Sir Ian will miss the final London dates of the production, Player Kings, and his understudy will take on the role of Falstaff.

A statement sent on his behalf by his publicist Clair Dobbs to the PA news agency said: "After three nights in hospital, the effects of my fall onstage have been fully analysed and I'm now having physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home.

"Meanwhile, my part in Player Kings is filled by the redoubtable David Semark supported by Robert Icke's amazing production and cast.

"The many messages of love and support will, I am sure, aid the speedy recovery that my doctors have promised me."

Sir Ian McKellen speaks during "The Delaunay Presents An Evening With", April 24
Sir Ian McKellen speaks during "The Delaunay Presents An Evening With", April 24. Picture: Getty

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Sir Ian was taken to hospital on June 17 to receive treatment after he lost his footing in a fight scene and fell from the stage. The remainder of the night's show was cancelled following the fall.

The veteran actor was expected to make a return for Wednesday's performance before it was announced on Tuesday that the show would not return until Thursday evening.

A post to the Player Kings on X said that actor David Semark would take his place for the remainder of the London dates.

"David Semark will be playing the role of Sir John Falstaff for the final three scheduled performances of Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London while Ian McKellen recuperates following his fall on Monday 17 June."

It added: "We look forward to Ian returning to the production, which begins a national tour in Bristol on Wednesday 3 July, before visiting Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle."

The final London performances are taking place on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

After his fall, The Lord Of The Rings star and Olivier Award-winner Sir Ian thanked everyone who had left messages of support. On X he wrote: "I want to thank everyone for their kind messages and support

"Since the accident, during a performance of Player Kings last night, my injuries have been diagnosed and treated by a series of experts, specialists and nurses working for the National Health Service.

"To them, of course, I am hugely indebted. They have assured me that my recovery will be complete and speedy and I am looking forward to returning to work."

A spokesperson for the London theatre said in a statement to PA: "Thank you to our audience and the general public for their well wishes following Ian's fall during this evening's performance of Player Kings.

"Following a scan, the brilliant NHS team have assured us that he will make a speedy and full recovery and Ian is in good spirits.

"The production has made the decision to cancel the performance on Tuesday June 18 so Ian can rest."

The statement also thanked doctors Rachel and Lee who were "on hand in the audience" and to the venue staff "for their support".

Samuel Edward-Cook, Richard Coyle, Sir Ian McKellen, Toheeb Jimoh and Clare Perkins bow at the curtain call for Player Kings, April 11
Samuel Edward-Cook, Richard Coyle, Sir Ian McKellen, Toheeb Jimoh and Clare Perkins bow at the curtain call for Player Kings, April 11. Picture: Getty

A BBC journalist who saw the play said the veteran actor was in a scene involving the Prince of Wales and Henry Percy when he fell off the front of the stage.

The actor was heard to cry out in pain as staff rushed to help. After the accident, audience members were informed that the remainder of the evening performance had been cancelled and they were evacuated from the premises.

Audience member Paul Critchley, a Methodist minister from Downham Market, Norfolk, told PA it was a "shock" to witness the fall.

"The house lights came up very quickly as the stage management and front-of-house team dealt with the incident. We were evacuated immediately so that Sir Ian could be treated in privacy", he said.

Sir Ian's understudy, Semark, trained at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art (Rada) and has credits in TV shows including EastEnders, Doctors, Law & Order UK and The Bill.

Player Kings, a production of Henry IV, parts one and two, adapted and directed by Robert Icke, is due to move to the Bristol Hippodrome in July.

Sir Ian's career has spanned more than six decades and seen the actor perform at theatres around the country.

On screen he is most known for playing Magneto in the X-Men films and Gandalf in Peter Jackson's fantasy trilogy, based on the books from JRR Tolkien.

On the stage he has played a number of Shakespearean characters including Richard II, Macbeth, Coriolanus and King Lear.

His many acting credits have led to a number of accolades over the years including several Olivier Awards.

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