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       HAL 9000's voice sounds unsettling because it's Canadian
       April 10th, 2018
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       I saw this post on BB earlier, I found it entertaining, so I'm posting
       it here.
       
(HTML) Full repost from BoingBoing.net
(HTML) By Clive Thompson, originally published 4:27 AM, 9 April 2018
(HTML) License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
       
       HAL's voice sounds unsettling because it's Canadian
       
       Stanley Kubrick had a lot of trouble getting the right voice for HAL in
       2001: A Space Odyssey. He initially used the Oscar-winning actor Martin
       Balsam, but his Bronx accent wound up making HAL sound "a little bit
       too colloquially American," as Kubrick later decided.
       
(HTML) So Kubrick turned instead to Douglas Rain, a Canadian stage actor who
       was a veteran of dozens of plays. It worked -- Kubrick got the weird,
       calm, eerie affect that made HAL so unsettling.
       
(HTML) Part of what made things work? Apparently it was Rain's Canadian
       tonalities:
       
            Kubrick was attracted to Mr. Rain for the role partly because the
            actor “had the kind of bland mid-Atlantic accent we felt was right
            for the part,” he said in the 1969 interview with Mr. Gelmis. But
            Mr. Rain’s accent isn’t mid-Atlantic at all; it’s Standard 
            Canadian English.
       
            As the University of Toronto linguistics professor Jack Chambers
            explained: “You have to have a computer that sounds like he’s from
            nowhere, or, rather, from no specific place. Standard Canadian
            English sounds ‘normal’ — that’s why Canadians are well received
            in the United States as anchormen and reporters, because the 
            vowels don’t give away the region they come from.”
       
       As a Canadian myself, this tickles me to no end.
       
       There are plenteous other trippy details in that piece, including the
       fact that since HAL's performance was recorded after all the other
       scenes were in the can, Kubrick got Stefanie Powers to read HAL's lines
(HTML) during the shoots! And then this ...
       
            Anthony Hopkins has said it influenced his performance as the
            serial killer Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.”
            Douglas Rain himself has never seen “2001: A Space Odyssey.” For
            the retired actor who spent decades at the Stratford Festival and
            turns 90 in May, the performance was simply a job.