Douglas Rain, the Canadian actor best known as the voice of ship’s HAL 9000 computer in the Stanley Kubrick sci-fi epic 2001: A Space Odyssey, has died aged 90. Rain died from natural causes in hospital in Ontario.
Rain was not the first actor cast in the part. Kubrick had originally asked Martin Balsam to provide the computer’s voice, but changed his mind at the last minute, explaining in a 1969 interview that “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”.
Rain had provided the voiceover for a 1960 Canadian science documentary called Universe, which profoundly impressed Kubrick who, according to Rain, watched it almost 100 times. Originally hired to produce voiceover narration, which was later abandoned, Rain recorded the dialogue in 1967 in nine and a half hours, including making 50 different versions of the celebrated Daisy Bell singing sequence that plays as HAL is being disconnected.