Tom Hanks Ad-Libs When Medical Emergency Halts Performance of HENRY IV

The show must go on, and few are better at keeping it going than Tom Hanks. The two-time Oscar winner proved as much during a performance of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV” on Wednesday, which he saved from potential walkouts by keeping the crowd engaged — in character — after an audience member fainted.

Hanks played the rotund monarch Falstaff in the production, which was held at the Veterans Affairs’ West Los Angeles campus, when the medical emergency occurred. That led to a 15-minute interruption, which the actor kept from becoming a curtain call with a little improvisation.

“No intermission brew for you!” Hanks yelled to any “scurvy rogues” who may have been considering leaving the play early. “An insult to all actors and to Shakespeare himself,” he added.

Hanks’ wife Rita Wilson is also in “Henry IV,” marking the first time they’ve appeared onstage together; they’ve participated in Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles’ Simply Shakespeare readings for 26 years. The play’s run continues until July 1.

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