Douglas Rain, the celebrated Shakespearean stage actor who voiced the HAL 9000 computer for Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died at the age of 90.
The Stratford Festival, the Canadian theater company of which Rain was a founding member in 1953, confirmed his death on Sunday night, stating that the actor passed away that morning at St. Mary's Memorial Hospital outside Stratford, Ontario. A cause of death was not released.
“Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development,” Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a release, according to The Star. “Douglas Rain was that rare artist: an actor deeply admired by other actors.”
The Statford Festival also acknowledged his death on social media, writing that “today we lost Douglas Rain, a member of our founding company and a hugely esteemed presence on our stages for 32 seasons.”
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. pic.twitter.com/dxcffgGEiA— Stratford Festival (@stratfest) November 12, 2018
A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Rain was a child actor on CBC radio before he went on to attend the University of Manitoba, study at London’s Old Vic theatre school, and perform a number Shakespearean plays at the Stratford Festival. In 1972, received a Tony Award nomination for his role in Robert Bolt's Vivat! Vivat Regina!.
Rain’s biggest impression on audiences, however, came when he voiced the HAL 9000 computer in 1968’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, a role that was ranked by the American Film Institute as the 13th-greatest villain in movie history. The supercomputer was initially meant to be voiced by a woman.
“Well, we had some difficulty deciding exactly what HAL should sound like, and Marty 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 Gelm in a 1970 interview, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Rain went on to voice another evil computer in Woody Allen’s 1973 futuristic comedy Sleeper, and later returned to voice HAL in the 2010 sequel. His roster also boasts more than a hundred film and TV credits. He performed on Stratford stages until 1998, performing in plays like Macbeth and Alice Through the Looking Glass.
Rain is survived by his two sons, David and Adam, his daughter Emma, granddaughter, Salima, and daughter-in-law, Asira. The Stratford Festival’s upcoming season’s production of Othello will be dedicated to his memory.