Sir Ian McKellen shares update as Player Kings confirms he will not reappear in West End play after falling off stage

Sir Ian McKellen, 85, tumbled from the stage during a fight scene

SIR Ian McKellen has shared an update after his fall as it was confirmed his understudy will take over his role in Player Kings for its final London dates.

The veteran screen and stage actor, 85, was performing at the Noel Coward Theatre when he lost his footing in a fight scene and fell from the stage.


Sir Ian McKellen, 85, tumbled from the stage during a fight sceneCredit: Reuters
Sir Ian will not appear for the rest of the play's run as he recovers


Sir Ian will not appear for the rest of the play’s run as he recoversCredit: Getty
Ambulance vehicles outside the Noel Coward theatre in London after the incident on Monday


Ambulance vehicles outside the Noel Coward theatre in London after the incident on Monday
Sir Ian's understudy will take his place in Player Kings


Sir Ian’s understudy will take his place in Player KingsCredit: PA

After the accident, he was taken to hospital to receive treatment and the remainder of Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday’s performances were cancelled to allow him to rest.

Sir Ian said he is having “physiotherapy, light exercise and a lot of essential rest at home” after three nights in hospital.

A statement sent on his behalf by his publicist Clair Dobbs 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.”

A post on the Player Kings X account today said: “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, 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.

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“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 the PA news agency: “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. Those affected will be contacted by their point of purchase as soon as possible tomorrow.”

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

A BBC journalist who saw the play said the veteran stage and screen 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.

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.


WITH two Oscar nominations for his work on screen and the recipient of every major theatrical award in the UK and US, Sir Ian McKellen is widely considered to be one of the greatest actors of all time.

The 85-year-old has gripped audiences both on screen and on stage, receiving international acclaim and becoming a household name across the globe.

His largest mark on the big screen may be as Gandalf in The Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

But he also found mainstream success with his performances as Magneto in the X-Men series and as the title character in the film adaptation of Shakespeare’s Richard III.

On the stage, Sir Ian has been nominated for 12 Olivier Awards and won six for his roles in Pillars Of The Community, The Alchemist, Bent, Wild Honey, Richard III and his one-man show Ian McKellen On Stage.

The actor was born in Burnley, Lancashire, in 1939 and, alongside his sister Jean, was raised by his mother Margery and father Denis.

Sir Ian has often credited his parents for encouraging his interest in becoming a performer, previously claiming in a 2017 interview with the Irish Examiner: “Apparently she said, ‘If Ian decides to be an actor, it’s a good job, because it brings pleasure to people’.”

His mother died when he was just 12 and he would lose his father at the age of 22.

Sir Ian acted at all the schools he attended.

When at Bolton School he was able to take on his first Shakespeare performance at Hopefield Miniature Theatre when, as a 13-year-old Malvolio, he performed the letter scene from Twelfth Night.

He then won a scholarship to read English at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge and was soon appearing in regular productions, including appearing alongside now famous alumni such as Derek Jacobi, David Frost and Margaret Drabble.

By the time Sir Ian graduated in 1961 he had decided to become an actor, and landed his first job in a production of A Man For All Seasons at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry.

Since then, he has gone on to become a household name for his acclaimed performances in everything from Shakespearean tragedies to Hollywood blockbusters.

Outside of acting, Sir Ian has been active in the gay rights movement.

Very few people knew of his homosexuality at a young age, including his parents.

In 1988, he publicly came out on a BBC Radio 4 programme while discussing Margaret Thatcher’s Section 28 legislation, which made the promotion of homosexuality as a family relationship by local authorities an offence.

He said of the law: “I think it’s offensive to anyone who is, like myself, homosexual, apart from the whole business of what can or cannot be taught to children.”

Section 28 was eventually fully repealed in 2003.

Sir Ian has spoken about his experiences on coming out on several occasions.

Back in July 2000, he wrote in The Independent: “The only good thing I can think to say about Section 28 is that it finally encouraged me to come out. A bit late in the day, but it remains the best thing I ever did.”

Then in 2015, he said that coming out actually made him a better performer, saying: “What happened immediately, according to friends, is I became not just a happier person, but a better actor.”

Sir Ian, who now lives in Limehouse, is currently performing in Player Kings, a production of Henry IV, Parts One and Two, at the Noel Coward Theatre in London.

Sir Ian is best known to modern film audiences for playing Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings


Sir Ian is best known to modern film audiences for playing Gandalf in The Lord of the RingsCredit: Alamy
Sir Ian as an elderly Sherlock Holmes


Sir Ian as an elderly Sherlock HolmesCredit: �AI Film Production Limited/British Broadcasting Corporation (2015) Packaging �Entertainme
The actor as Richard III in 1995


The actor as Richard III in 1995Credit: Alamy
Sir Ian alongside Sir Patrick Stewart in 2000 film X-Men


Sir Ian alongside Sir Patrick Stewart in 2000 film X-MenCredit: Rex

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