Douglas Rain, voice of the computer HAL 9000 in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, died on Sunday morning. He was 90 years old.
Born in Canada, Rain started on the stage and was known in both the Canadian and British theater communities for his roles in William Shakespeare’s classics like Othello and Twelfth Night. But Rain is best known in the sci-fi community as the voice of HAL—a cold, monotone voice that immediately evokes fear in anyone who hears it.
Even if you’ve never seen Stanley Kubrick’s classic 1967 movie, you know the famous exchange between the astronaut David Bowman and HAL. “Open the pod bay doors, HAL,” Dr. Bowman says. “I’m sorry Dave, I’m afraid I can’t do that,” the HAL computer replies.
If you’ve somehow gone your entire life without hearing those famous lines, you can watch them on YouTube.
From NBC News:
Rain was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and trained at the Old Vic Theatre in London. In 1972, he was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Supporting or Featured Actor in a Drama for his performance as William Cecil in “Vivat! Vivat Regina!” on Broadway.
In 1953, he became a member of the first repertory cast of the Stratford Festival and performed in 32 seasons with the company.
According to Vincent Lobrutto’s 1997 study “Stanley Kubrick: A Biography,” Rain was initially contracted to narrate “2001" after Kubrick heard his narration of the short documentary “Universe,” which was released by the National Film Board of Canada in 1960.
“Today we lost Douglas Rain, a member of our founding company and a hugely esteemed presence on our stages for 32 seasons. He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” the Stratford Festival in Ontario tweeted yesterday.
RIP Douglas Rain. You gave life to a character that will live on for generations to come; a character that served as a warning to those of us living in “the future.” Sadly, we didn’t listen. Or, if we did listen, we just didn’t care. Because HAL is now becoming real. The HAL of today just goes by a different name: Sometimes Siri, sometimes Alexa. And for those with a truly dark sense of humour, just HAL.