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R.I.P. Douglas Rain (1928 - 2018), aka the HAL 9000

A detail from a 2001 A Space Odyssey Front of House / Lobby Card

 

We are very sorry to hear of the passing, at the age of ninety, of actor Douglas Rain.

Born in 1928, Rain studied in both Canada and England. His film and stage career spanned more than forty years, including nineteen movies and many decades at the Stratford Festival of Canada, which he had helped to found.

It is however, as the voice of the HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey" that he will be most widely known. 

His performance was recorded within forty-eight hours at Borehamwood, about ten miles down the road from where I am typing.

Forty to fifty years before Siri and Alexa first spoke, his performance defined our perception of a voice aware, Artificially Intelligent, computer.

Rain gave a supposedly infallible computer a soul. Despite the (by now) evident imperfections of the calculating machine, the prolonged deactivation of HAL is as uncomfortable, emotional and moving as any scene on film. 

He reprised the role in "2010: The Year We Make Contact", with the eventually heroic HAL being restarted by his original creator, Dr. Chandra.

Douglas Rain died at the St. Mary's Memorial Hospital, Ontario, Canada of natural causes on November 11th, 2018.

Our condolences to his family, friends and, many fellow fans, World-wide.

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