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Ian McKellen to break from performing after falling off stage — but not for too long

Sir Ian McKellen during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, on Feb. 8, 2024. (Isabel Infantes/PA Wire via Zuma Press/TNS)

Ian McKellen will briefly put acting aside to focus on his health, after he fell off a London stage during a performance this week.

When the 85-year-old “X-Men” and “Lord of the Rings” actor lost his footing at the Noël Coward Theatre on Monday, he was portraying Sir John Falstaff in the adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Henry IV, Part 2.” The play announced Thursday on X (formerly Twitter) that McKellen will take a break from the role.

“David Semark will be playing the role of Sir John Falstaff for the final three scheduled performances of ‘Player Kings’ while Ian McKellen recuperates following his fall,” the production said in its statement.

After falling off the stage during Monday’s performance, McKellen reportedly cried out as the house lights turned on. Audience members were ushered out of the theater and the two-time Oscar nominee was hospitalized. The theater swiftly canceled the night’s performance along with Tuesday’s show.

In a statement shared Tuesday with The Times, the Noël Coward Theatre confirmed that McKellen was on the mend after the National Health Service team “assured us that he will make a speedy and full recovery.” The theater did not detail any injuries the actor, who was “in good spirits,” may have suffered.

“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,” the statement added. “Thank you to doctors Rachel and Lee who were on hand in the audience and to all the venue staff for their support.”

McKellen won’t be away from the stage for too long, the theater said Thursday. He will reprise his “Player Kings” role in July when the production launches its national tour. The play will begin its tour July 3 and perform at Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle.

Earlier this week, McKellen said in a statement shared with The Times that he is “looking forward to returning to work.”


(L.A. Times staff writer Angie Orellana Hernandez contributed to this report.)


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