Douglas Rain, who voiced HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, has passed away at the age of 90. Traditionally a stage actor, Rain is best known for voicing the artificially intelligent antagonist in both the original 2001 and its sequel 2010: The Year We Made Contact.
A Canadian native, Douglas Rain began his career as an actor in theater, radio plays, and through voiceover work. He would alternate between the theater and television - with a focus on plays by William Shakespeare - starring both on stage and TV in lead roles in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and Henry V. That said, the role for which he is perhaps most recognized required no physical acting at all. And, in fact, his earlier voice work would later play a significant role in helping him land a role in the adaptation of Arthur C. Clarke's 2001: A Space Odyssey as the calm, but steadfast, voice of HAL 9000.
Following a long career in acting, Rain passed away at the age of 90, according to The Nerdist. His iconic voice work in 2001: A Space Odyssey (as well its sequel) has become a staple in science fiction - namely through dialogue between himself and the film's lead protagonist Dr. Dave Bowman (Keir Dullea). However, his work on camera was sparse compared to his work in theater, and Rain's legacy extends to co-founding the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario, Canada, where he helped coach aspiring actors. Rain passed away in St. Marys, Ontario, Canada, reportedly due to natural causes.
In 2001: A Space Odyssey, one of HAL's most classic lines is when he says, “I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that. This mission is too important for me to allow you to jeopardize it.” As it so happens, though, Rain's calm and composed approach to HAL's voice wasn't how Kubrick first envisioned it. According to The New York Times, Kubrick had first cast Academy Award winner Martin Balsam for the role, even recording HAL's lines for the movie with Balsam. However, when the director wasn't satisfied with the results, he was inspired to meet with Rain after hearing his voice in a documentary from the '60s called Universe. The rest is history.
The modern idea of how artificial intelligence should sound owes a lot - if not everything - to Rain. The calming nature of modern virtual assistants that most people have in their homes or on their phones owe a lot to HAL 9000, despite the fact that this particular piece of AI was more likely to kill its user than suggest a song off of Soundcloud. HAL 9000 isn't just considered a classic movie villain because of its menace, but because of its restraint.