Who Was Douglas Rain? Voice of HAL in '2001: A Space Odyssey' Dies Aged 90

Douglas Rain, the veteran actor best known for voicing sentient computer HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died aged 90.

Rain died at the St. Mary's Memorial Hospital outside Stratford, Ontario, the Stratford Festival announced.

The actor who was nominated for a Tony Award in 1972 for his role in in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat Regina! performed for more than 32 seasons at the Stratford Festival, with A Man for All Seasons in 1998 being his final engagement, reports CTV News.

Despite primarily being a stage actor, he was best known for his voice work as the murderous HAL 900 computer in Stanley Kubrick’s iconic 1968 film, as well as it’s sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Rain nearly missed out on the role, as early drafts of the 2001 script had HAL being voiced by a woman. Character actors Nigel Davenport and Martin Balsam were among those who also auditioned for the role of the softly spoken computer.

“We had some difficulty deciding exactly what HAL should sound like, and [Balsam] just sounded a little bit too colloquially American, whereas Rain had the kind of bland mid-Atlantic accent we felt was right for the part," Kubrick told Newsday film critic Joseph Gelmis for his 1970 book The Film Director as Superstar.

According to the blog 2010: The Year We Make Contact, Rain recorded the voice of HAL “with his bare feet resting on a pillow, in order to maintain the required relaxed tone."

DrxRVauVAAA3EV5 Douglas Rain, the actor best known for voicing HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died aged 90. Stratford Festival

Rain studied at the prestigious Old Vic theater in London and made his Broadway debut in 1956’s Tamburlaine the Great, reports Vulture.

Stafford Festival Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino said Canadian theater has now lost one of its “greatest talents and a guiding light in its development."

“Douglas Rain was that rare artist: an actor deeply admired by other actors,” Cimolino said in a statement.

“The voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas shared many of the same qualities as Kubrick’s iconic creation: precision, strength of steel, enigma and infinite intelligence, as well as a wicked sense of humor.

“But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the center of his mystery lay warmth and humanity, evidenced in his care for the young members of our profession.

“Douglas dedicated his talent to the stages of his native land, and we are proud in return to dedicate the coming season’s production of Othello to his memory. We owe him so much.”

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