The Actor Behind the Chilling Voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Douglas Rain, Dies at 90

Douglas Rain, the longtime acclaimed actor behind the chilling voice of the murderous HAL 9000 computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey, died on Sunday. He was 90.

His death was confirmed by Canadian theater company Stratford Festival, which Rain helped found in 1953. The theater’s official Twitter account eulogized the actor late Sunday night.

“Today we lost Douglas Rain, a member of our founding company and a hugely esteemed presence on our stages for 32 seasons,” the tweet read. “He will be greatly missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

Rain was born on March 13, 1928 in Winnipeg, Canada. Though his creepy take on HAL made his voice memorable for millions of viewers, Rain was primarily a theater actor and was critically acclaimed for his Shakespearian work. He was also nominated for a Tony Award in 1972 for his performance in Vivat! Vivat Regina!

After his death, Stratford Festival’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino remembered the late actor in a statement to The London Free Press, in which he attributed HAL’s best qualities to Rain.

Douglas Rain
Douglas Rain

“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 humor,” Cimolino said. “But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the center of his mystery lay warmth and humanity, evidenced in his care for the young members of our profession.”

He continued, “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.”