Canadian voice of Hal in '2001: A Space Odyssey' dies

Published November 13, 2018, 4:56 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

In this June 7, 1979 photo provided by Stratford Festival, Actor Douglas Rain appears as King Henry IV in this scene from The Second Part of Henry IV at Stratford's Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario. Rain, who played some of Shakespeare's most intriguing characters onstage but perhaps is best known for supplying the creepily calm voice of the rogue computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" has died. Douglas Rain was 90. (Robert C Ragsdale/Stratford Festival via AP)
In this June 7, 1979 photo provided by Stratford Festival, Actor Douglas Rain appears as King Henry IV in this scene from The Second Part of Henry IV at Stratford’s Festival Theatre in Stratford, Ontario. Rain, who played some of Shakespeare’s most intriguing characters onstage but perhaps is best known for supplying the creepily calm voice of the rogue computer HAL in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” has died. Douglas Rain was 90. (Robert C Ragsdale/Stratford Festival via AP)

OTTAWA (AFP) – Douglas Rain, the Canadian actor who voiced vengeful supercomputer HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” a precursor of artificial intelligence in smartphones, has died. He was 90.

According to the Stratford Festival, a repertory theatre festival of which he was a founding member, Rain died in hospital near Toronto of natural causes Sunday morning.

“Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development,” the festival’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino said in a statement.

Born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Rain began performing as a child actor on CBC Radio before going on to work on stage — having once understudied Alec Guinness (“Star Wars”) in Richard III in Stratford — and in film, racking up more than 40 acting and voice credits from 1955 to 1995.

But, Cimolino noted, “it was as HAL that Rain made an indelible mark on popular culture.”

“Rain had deep respect for Kubrick and as a result sought to protect the voice from exploitation, declining a string of commercial requests for it over the years,” he said.

HAL is a sentient computer in the 1968 film, controlling a spaceship bound for Jupiter and interacting with its crew before eventually seeking revenge on the astronauts for plotting to shut down the malfunctioning AI.

He arguably inspired virtual assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa in the iPhone and Google Home devices, respectively.

Kubrick had chosen Rain for the role after hearing his flat delivery in a space documentary, which he described in Kate McQuiston’s book on his filmmaking as “the intelligent friend next door quality, with a great deal of sincerity, and yet, I think, an arresting quality.”

Rain told the New York Times he had recorded the lines without the footage, and had never seen the movie.

 
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