What we know as Ian McKellen withdraws from Player Kings tour after fall

The veteran screen and stage actor, 85, is having physiotherapy after falling off the stage while performing in the West End.

Sir Ian McKellen attends
Sir Ian McKellen is having physiotherapy as he recovers from falling off stage during a performance. (Getty Images for The Wolseley Hospitality Group)

Sir Ian McKellen has pulled out of the national tour of Player Kings after falling off the stage while performing in the West End.

The 85-year-old actor is in recovery after he was injured while performing a battle scene in Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in London on Monday 17 June when he fell from the stage.

McKellen was then replaced by his understudy David Semark in the role of Sir John Falstaff for the final three scheduled performances in the West End.

After doctors' advice, we now know McKellen will not return to the role and instead Semark will replace him for the remainder of the tour.

A statement from the production said: "Following Ian McKellen’s injury during the West End run of Player Kings, his doctors’ advice is to take time off from work in order to fully recover. As such, he will not be returning to play Sir John Falstaff in the national tour of Players Kings (3-27 July 2024).

"Ian continues to recuperate very well, but he needs the time to rest and ensure a complete recovery. We continue to send him our best wishes. As it was for the final West End performances, the role of Falstaff will now be performed by David Semark, Ian’s brilliant understudy, for all tour dates of Player Kings."

Richard Coyle (L) and Sir Ian McKellen bow at the curtain call during the press night performance of
Sir Ian McKellen at the curtain call during the press night of Player Kings at the Noel Coward Theatre in April. (Getty Images)

We do not know when McKellen will return to work. As news broke McKellen is not returning to the tour, the actor shared details on his recovery saying he was improving every day. However, he said doctors have advised him to not work for the "meantime".

He said: "Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day. It’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime.

"I had been so looking forward to bringing Player Kings to theatre-goers in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle. But I can assure them that, with David Semark now playing Falstaff, Robert Icke’s production and his acting company remain as dazzling as ever. Go see for yourself!”

Sir Ian McKellen during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. Picture date: Thursday February 8, 2024. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)
Sir Ian McKellen is recovering. (Getty Images)

So what is McKellen doing in his recovery? We know The Lord of the Rings star has revealed he is doing physiotherapy, light exercise and taking lots of rest.

He said in 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."

McKellen spent three nights in hospital falling the fall. Although the extent of his injuries are not known. He has now been discharged and is resting at home. But he revealed he has been promised a "speedy recovery" by doctors.

The Shakespeare star broke his silence to thank fans for their well wishes and support while he recovers from the fall. At the time, he wrote on X: "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 general view of the Noel Coward theatre in London.
A general view of the Noel Coward theatre in London. (Getty)

Yahoo's Roxy Simons saw Players Kings with McKellen before Monday 17 June. She said the scene in which McKellen hurt himself is pivotal to the play.

She said: "The scene is one of the most important of the production, and McKellen delivers a powerful monologue that encompasses everything you love about —and get frustrated by— Falstaff. Here is an actor who commands the stage, who can hold the audience's attention with his every word.

"I was utterly captivated by McKellen as he gave the speech, making his way across the stage to deliver the "final" blow to Hotspur. It's funny and emotional, and represents everything that I love best about seeing McKellen on stage, and it has to be seen to be believed."