Ian McKellen treated theatregoers to some Gandalf improv after his King Lear performance was cancelled

The Lord of The Rings star also offered acting advice and Maggie Smith anecdotes as part of an impromptu Q&A session

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 26:  Sir Ian McKellen attends the press night after party for

Sir Ian McKellen faced quite the dilemma after an injured leg prevented him from performing in King Lear on Saturday. His solution? Treating theatregoers to an impromptu Q&A and Gandalf reprise.


The Lord of The Rings star announced on Twitter that he had to bow out of the matinee Shakespeare show after “he galloped up 45 steps to catch the train” and his “leg gave way”. That meant McKellen couldn’t carry out the most strenuous parts of the play, such as hoisting a corpse across stage.

However, as audience members awaited their ticket refunds McKellen nevertheless appeared on stage for 90 minutes as he “tried out a few new routines and some old ones – a bit of Gandalf and a couple of Shakespeare speeches”.

So, although audiences missed out on McKellen’s critically-acclaimed Lear, they instead were served a one-off “experience of a lifetime”.

Picture this: apprehensive and excited to sit through three hours of King Lear (from the cheap seats) with the great Sir Ian McKellen, the performance is cancelled half an hour after it was due to start. And then Ian McKellen comes out, tells you all about how he injured himself, and spends 90 minutes chatting with the audience, telling anecdotes and answering questions with humility and hilarity. So I didn’t get to see Lear (this time), but I did have a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a still-enchanting afternoon with a living icon. * #kinglear #ianmckellen #sirianmckellen #dukeofyork #dukeofyorkstheatre #theatre #drama #play #shakespeare #production #literature #english #london #westend #bookstagram #book #bookworm #booklover #books #bookish #instagay #instagood #instacool #love

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And McKellen even handed out Lord of the Rings trivia about the franchise’s most famous line…

…anecdotes about Maggie Smith…

…some solid acting advice…

…and all without a microphone.


We doff our wizard’s hats in your direction, Sir Ian.

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