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Ian McKellen, 85, Retires from Role Following Stage Fall

British actor Ian McKellen, 85, will not return to the role of John Falstaff in a tour after he fell off a London stage mid-performance last month, the play’s producers said on Monday.

McKellen was starring in “Player Kings,” a production of William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Parts One and Two,” in the capital’s West End theatre district, on June 17 when he lost his footing and fell off the front of the stage during a fight scene.
Sir Ian McKellen bows at the curtain call during the press night performance of “Player Kings” at the Noel Coward Theatre on April 11, 2024 in London, England. Hoda Davaine/Dave Benett/Getty Images

The actor, who is best known for playing Gandalf in the film versions of “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” and was also Magneto in the “X-Men” movies, was taken to hospital.

“Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day,” he said in a statement.

“It’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime.”
McKellen attends “The Delaunay Presents An Evening With” in collaboration with Denville Hall, the residential home for all members of the theatrical profession, at The Delaunay, Aldwych, on April 21, 2024 in London, England. Dave Benett/Getty Images for The Wolseley Hospitality Group
McKellen and Elijah Wood in a scene from “The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.” ©Warner Bros/courtesy Everett Co

David Semark, McKellen’s understudy who completed the run in London, will play the role in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle, producers said.

McKellen’s stage career stretches back to 1961, where his credits include playing Richard III, King Lear and Macbeth.

Source: Getty Images, Warner Bros