Robert Hardy has made the tough decision to withdraw from upcoming production The Audience after falling and cracking his ribs. The 87-year-old actor had been playing Winston Churchill in the Helen Mirren-led play that opens next week.
After continuing to perform while injured during the show’s previews, Hardy, who is well known for his appearances in films including the Harry Potter series and TV shows such as All Creatures Great And Small, decided that it would not be possible for him to perform eight shows a week for the production’s run.
Speaking about the decision, Stephen Daldry, The Audience’s director, said: “Robert is one of theatre’s great actors and for him to have accepted this challenge at his age speaks of his courage and commitment to the theatre. That he feels unable to continue is a great sadness to us all but we respect his decision and wish him a return to full health and strength very soon.”
The show’s producers are currently searching for an actor to step into Hardy’s shoes, but until they find a suitable replacement understudy David Peart will play the role.
Churchill is one of many Prime Ministers featured in the latest play from Frost/Nixon writer Peter Morgan, which explores the intensely private weekly meetings held between the Queen (Mirren) and the head of government during her six decade reign. Not even the pair’s spouses are privy to what is discussed.
The play, one of the spring’s hottest tickets in London’s West End, also features Margaret Thatcher (Haydn Gwynne), Gordon Brown (Nathaniel Parker), John Major (Paul Ritter) and David Cameron (Rufus Wright). It was announced last week that it will be the third non-National Theatre show to be staged as part of National Theatre Live later this summer.