United Kingdom

Alas, poor Ian! Hamlet star McKellen is seen on the pavement practising lines 

To most shoppers, he appeared to be another homeless person, slumped on the street and muttering to himself. 

But when concerned passers-by stopped to help, they were stunned to discover he was theatrical legend Sir Ian McKellen practising his lines.

Worried shopper Abida Sheikh approached the figure outside a closed branch of Top Shop in Windsor on Friday afternoon.

'Windsor often has lots of homeless people sitting outside shops, and I thought this elderly man was just one of them,' she said. 'I went up to ask him if he wanted a coffee and a sandwich, but when I got closer I suddenly recognised him as Ian McKellen.

When concerned passers-by stopped to help, they were stunned to discover he was theatrical legend Sir Ian McKellen practising his lines

'I asked him if he was OK and why he was sitting on the floor. He told me that he was fine, just sitting there learning his lines.

'I saw then that he did have a script in his hands, but I was still shocked to see a star of his calibre just sitting on the floor like that.

'There are so many quiet coffee shops nearby where he could have sat.'

The 82-year-old is starring as Hamlet in an 'age-blind' interpretation of Shakespeare's masterpiece at the Theatre Royal in Windsor, about five minutes from where he was spotted.

'A few people passing by seemed concerned for him as he was sat mumbling to himself,' said one onlooker. 

'I'm not sure everyone recognised him, as Windsor has a big homeless population.'

It is, bizarrely, not the first time that Sir Ian has been mistaken for a vagrant. In 2010 he was given an Australian dollar by a passer-by while he was outside a Melbourne theatre, taking a break from rehearsing Waiting For Godot in a tramp costume. He kept the coin backstage as a 'lucky talisman'.

The 82-year-old is starring as Hamlet in an 'age-blind' interpretation of Shakespeare's masterpiece at the Theatre Royal in Windsor, about five minutes from where he was spotted

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