Canadian Douglas Rain was the voice of HAL, the sinister computer in cult classic 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Born in Winnipeg, Rain trained at the Old Vic Theatre in London, becoming a celebrated Shakespearean actor.
Initially, HAL was named Athena and was to be voiced by a woman but once it was decided the voice should be a man’s, a number of actors were tried and ruled out.
The 1968 sci-fi thriller was directed by Stanley Kubrick and he told Newsday that Rain had the “kind of bland mid-Atlantic accent we felt was right for the part”.
Rain reportedly spent just over nine hours voicing the part, doing it with his bare feet resting on a pillow so he could maintain the required relaxed tone.
But he rarely spoke about the role after the film was released, despite one of his lines – “I’m sorry, Dave, I am afraid I cannot do that” – becoming famous.
The voice was even inspiration for Anthony Hopkins as he developed the character Hannibal Lecter in Silence Of The Lambs.
Rain was persuaded by Woody Allen to voice another evil computer in the 1973 comedy Sleeper and he returned as HAL in 1984 for the sequel 2010: The Year We Make Contact.
In Canada, he co-founded the Stratford Shakespearean Festival and the event’s artistic director Antoni Cimolino said: “Canadian theatre has lost one of its greatest talents and a guiding light in its development”.
He added: “Douglas Rain was that rare artist – an actor deeply admired by other actors.
“Douglas shared many of the same qualities as Kubrick’s iconic creation [HAL] – precision, strength of steel, enigma and infinite intelligence, as well as a wicked sense of humour.
“But those of us lucky enough to have worked with Douglas soon solved his riddle and discovered that at the centre of his mystery lay warmth and humanity, evidenced in his care for the young members of our profession.”
Rain was divorced and is survived by two sons and a granddaughter.
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