As previously reported, Hardy, 87, recently suffered a fall and cracked some ribs, yet continued to perform at all of the preview performances last week. Over the weekend the actor decided that a schedule of eight performances a week was not sustainable.
Fox will now step into the role of Winston Churchill.
In a statement director Stephen Daldry said, "We are incredibly fortunate that at very short notice Edward Fox has kindly agreed to step in. We are particularly lucky to find an actor of such stature and great authority to play Winston Churchill and we are delighted to welcome Edward to the Company."
Edward Fox, famed for his performance as Edward VIII in Thames Television’s "Edward and Mrs. Simpson," has had a long and distinguished career on screen and stage. He won a BAFTA for Best Supporting Actor in Joseph Losey’s "The Go Between" and was The Jackal in "Day of the Jackal" directed by Fred Zinnemann. His many other film credits include "A Bridge Too Far" (for which he was also awarded a BAFTA), "The Duellists," "The Shooting Party," "Ghandi," "The Dresser" and "The Importance of Being Ernest." His theatre credits include Knuckle (David Hare’s first play to appear in the West End), The Family Reunion at the Vaudeville, A Letter of Resignation and more. In 2003 Fox was awarded an OBE.
The company also features Michael Elwyn as Anthony Eden, Haydn Gwynne as Margaret Thatcher, Richard McCabe as Harold Wilson, Nathaniel Parker as Gordon Brown, Paul Ritter as John Major and Rufus Wright as David Cameron. The Equerry is Geoffrey Beevers, and the role of Young Elizabeth is played by Bebe Cave, Maya Gerber and Nell Williams. David Peart plays James Callaghan, who is joined by ensemble members Jonathan Coote, Ian Houghton and Charlotte Moore. The production, which began previews Feb. 15, will officially open March 5.
The Audience is produced in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions, Robert Fox and Andy Harries.
For more information visit theaudienceplay.com.