Rain, Douglas

Rain, Douglas
(b. 1928)
   A veteran of the international stage, Canadian actor Douglas Rain gives one of the most memorable performances in any STANLEY KUBRICK film—although he never appears on screen—as the voice of the HAL-9000 computer, in 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968). Without detracting from the fine performances of KEIR DULLEA and GARY LOCKWOOD, one might even go so far as to say that Rain’s HAL is the star of the show. In an inimitable, soft, soothing, yet cool and distant voice, Rain makes HAL as impenetrable as he is well spoken, and ultimately as bone-chilling as he is initially reassuring. Rain’s opportunity to work on 2001 came as a result of a film he did for the National Film Board of Canada, called Galaxy. ARTHUR C. CLARKE had seen the film, which attempts to explain the origins of the solar system, and called it “the best of its kind I have ever seen. ” Clarke recommended the film to Kubrick for informational purposes, and the director was so impressed that, according to the Toronto Daily Star, he “tried to hire the whole production team. Failing that, he settled for Rain. ” Initially, Rain was hired to do the opening narration of 2001, which Kubrick ultimately discarded.
   Rain attended the Old Vic School in London, where he studied with actors Michel St. Denis, Glen Byam Shaw, and George Devine. After a year with the Old Vic Company, he returned to Canada and began a longtime association with the Stratford (Ontario) Festival in 1952. There, the Winnipeg-born actor understudied for Alec Guinness, before going on to play top Shakespearean roles for the festival, including Prince Hal in Henry IV, Malvolio in Twelfth Night, and Iago, King John, Dromio of Syracuse, and Wolsey, in Henry VIII. Rain’s other stage appearances have taken him to Chicago,Washington, and Broadway. He directed a 1973 production in Winnipeg of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. Rain has also made hundreds of appearances on Canadian and American television.
   Rain parodied the HAL-9000 computer, when he did the voice for the “evil computer” in Woody Allen’s Sleeper (1973). Then, in 1982, Rain reprised his role as the voice of HAL in Peter Hyams’s sequel, 2010:The Year We Make Contact.
   ■ Cohen, Nathan, “Galaxy did wonders for Douglas Rain’s star,”Toronto Daily Sun (May 24, 1968), 31;
   ■ “Douglas Rain and Martha Henry Signed for Stratford Festival This Summer,” press release, Stratford Festival, March 1, 1971;
   ■ “Douglas Rain,” program notes for The Golden Age (November 1963);
   ■ “Guinness Understudy,” New York Herald Tribune, May 18, 1954;
   ■ “Douglas Rain,” Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com;
   ■ Press release, Shaw Festival, Court House Theatre (Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario): February 1967.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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