Douglas Rain, best known as the voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, has passed away. Rain was 90-years-old and reportedly died of natural causes in St. Mary's, Canada. The news was confirmed by Antoni Cimolino, artistic director of the Stratford Festival, which Rain helped to pioneer. Cimolino had this to say in a statement.
"Canadian theatre has 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. 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 humour. But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the centre 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."
Born in Winnipeg, Canada in 1928, Douglas Rain got his start early as a child doing some voice work on the radio. Following his college days at the University of Manitoba, Rain traveled to London and studied acting at the Old Vic Theatre. It was in 1958 that Rain returned to Canada and became one of the founding members of the Stratford Festival, which is currently North America's largest classical theatre company. In that inaugural year, Rain played Marquis of Dorset and Tyrrell in William Shakespeare's Richard III alongside future Star Wars star Alec Guinness, who played the title role. Rain was an understudy to Guinness.
The Stratford Festival was easily what Douglas Rain participated in the most consistently during his long career, participating in a total of 23 seasons, doing his final production in 1998, starring in A Man for All Seasons. However prolific his stage career was, Rain will always be remembered for his work in one of the most celebrated sci-fi movies in history.
Stanley Kubrick cast Douglas Rain as the voice of the iconic HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey after production had already been completed. Despite never actually appearing on screen, Rain manages to steal the show and deliver a performance for the ages. Rain would go on to reprise the role years later in the sequel, 2010. Many believe that Rain lent his voice for was Woody Allen's sci-fi spoof Sleeper, in which, he supposedly voices an evil computer. Rain's family disagree that he actually did the voice, saying that there is no proof of this. And that the voice in Woody Allen's movie as another actor doing an 'attempted imitation of HAL's voice'. IMDB has him created as the voice of the Evil Computer and Various Robot Butlers, but his family cannot find verifiable truth that this is true.
Over his long career, Douglas Rain garnered more than 100 credits across movies, TV, radio and live theatre. Many took to social media to pay their respects to Rain after news of his passing broke. You can check out various tributes to Rain below. RIP, Douglass Rain. This news was first reported by the Stratford Festival.