Douglas Rain, Voice of HAL in '2001: A Space Odyssey,' Has Died

Douglas Rain, the actor behind the iconic voice of HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick's classic 2001: A Space Odyssey, passed away on Sunday.

Rain was 90 years old when he passed at the St. Mary's Memorial Hospital near Stratford, Ontario, as announced by local theater fest the Stratford Festival. He reportedly died of natural causes.

The actor provided the voice for HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the sequel, 2010: The Year We Make Contact.

"Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development," said Stratford Festival artistic director Antoni Cimolino in a statement. He added that Rain was "an actor deeply admired by other actors."

Rain's soft and sure voice provided an eery backdrop to 2001, as the astronauts struggle against the rogue artificial intelligence. Director Stanley Kubrick spoke about Rain's contributions to the film during an interview in the '70s for Newsday critic Joseph Gelmis. Apparently, Kubrick had to recast the role after actor Martin Balsam's performance as HAL was "too emotional and too human."

"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 said.

Rain spent 32 seasons with the Stratford Festival and was one of its surviving founding members. He acted with the company until 1998, and performed in many Shakespearean roles.

2001 co-star Keir Duella spoke about Rain's contributions to the film in a 2016 interview with IGN.


"He's the main character of the film as far as I'm concerned," the actor, who played Cmdr. David Bowman. "It was brilliant casting. Something about his voice, it was perfect. It was unusual."

Rain is survived by two sons, one daughter, and one granddaughter.