Why was Ian McKellen hospitalized? Lord of the Rings actor reportedly in "good spirits" and expected to make speedy recovery

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Sir Ian McKellen (Image via Nicky J Sims/Getty Images)

On Monday, June 17, 2024, Lord of the Rings actor Sir Ian McKellen was hospitalized after he fell off the stage during a performance of Player Kings, a production based on Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II. According to BBC, a spokesperson for the Noel Coward Theatre, where the show took place, mentioned that staff and two doctors in the audience rushed to his aid.

The actor was then taken to the hospital, and the audience was evacuated after being informed that the evening show had been canceled. The spokesperson added that the 85-year-old actor is now in "good spirits" and is expected to return for his matinee performance on Wednesday. He is expected to make "a speedy and full recovery."

"It was a shock to witness" — An audience member recalls Sir Ian McKellen's fall on Monday

As per a BBC report, Ian McKellen, who plays John Falstaff in Player Kings, was in the midst of a battle scene involving the Prince of Wales (played by Toheeb Jimoh) and Henry Percy (played by Samuel Edward-Cook) when he lost his footing and fell off the stage. The actor, known for his role as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings, cried out in pain, and crew members rushed to help him.

Per a spokesperson for the theater, Tuesday's performance of Player Kings was also canceled "so that Ian can rest." They added that the actor would return to the stage on Wednesday. They additionally thanked the two doctors who were "on hand in the audience" and the staff for helping McKellen.

Paul Critchley, from Downham Market in Norfolk, who was present in the audience at the time of the incident, told PA News Agency that the British actor tripped as he "moved downstage to take a more active part in the scene." Critchley explained they were "evacuated immediately" so that "Sir Ian could be treated in privacy."

"It was a shock to witness his fall and I wish him a speedy recovery. My thoughts are also with his fellow cast members, stage crew and front of house team at the Noel Coward Theatre," they said.

Five years ago, Sir Ian McKellen was forced to cancel a King Lear production at London's Duke of York Theatre after he injured his leg while running to catch a train. However, he interacted with the audience members, answering questions on stage.


Ian McKellen is one of the most prolific Shakespearean actors credited with roles including Richard II, Coriolanus, Iago, Richard III, King Lear, and Macbeth. He is set to appear as the titular character in a film adaptation of Shakespeare's Hamlet, directed by Sean Mathias.

Player Kings is directed by Robert Icke and it began its 12-week West End run in April. It is set to move to the Bristol Hippodrome in July.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes
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