Ian McKellen, 'with the greatest reluctance,' bows out of theater tour amid fall recovery

Ian McKellen will not push forward with his “Player Kings” commitments, despite the production’s announcement last month that he would.

The “X-Men” and “Lord of the Rings” star, 85, will prioritize his health and recovery after falling off a London stage during a performance in June. “Two weeks after my accident onstage, my injuries improve day by day,” the Oscar-nominated actor said in a statement shared by the production Monday. He will, however, be taking time away from theater.

“It’s with the greatest reluctance that I have accepted the medical advice to protect my full recovery by not working in the meantime,” he said.

McKellen fell off the stage June 17 during a performance of “Player Kings” — an adaptation of William Shakespeare’s “Henry IV, Part 1” and “Henry IV, Part 2” — at the Noël Coward Theatre. The actor, portraying Sir John Falstaff, lost his footing, fell and reportedly cried out as the house lights turned on. He was swiftly transported to a hospital, and the theater canceled performances for that evening as well as the following day.

A day after the accident, McKellen posted on X thanking fans for the outpouring of support and sharing that he had been “diagnosed and treated by a series of experts.” He did not disclose more information about his injuries but said doctors “assured me that my recovery will be complete and speedy.”

That same week, social media accounts for “Player Kings” announced that McKellen would be back to reprise his role when it launched its national tour this week with stops including Birmingham and Norwich, England. Now, understudy David Semark will take over the role for the tour, which runs from Wednesday to July 27.

“I’ve been so looking forward to bringing ‘Player Kings’ to theatre-goers in Bristol, Birmingham, Norwich and Newcastle,” McKellen continued in his Monday statement. “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!”

In the same post, the production acknowledged McKellen’s need to step away amid his recovery, noting that he “continues to recuperate very well, but he needs time to rest and ensure a complete recovery.”

The production added: “We will continue to send him our best wishes.”

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