Hal Douglas, the man with the noise-canceling baritone who voiced thousands of movie trailers over the years, has died. The New York Times reports that the actor passed away earlier this week at the age of 89, after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Douglas was a prolific voice-over artist: if you’ve been to the movies sometime in the past two decades, you’ve undoubtedly heard his work. And he was gifted with the ability to make even the most outrageous, melodramatic, crap-tastic film sound like a spectacular must-see. “In a world where there are too many potatoes, only one man has what it takes… To mash them.”
And though recent years have seen the decline of the disembodied narrator in movie trailers, his legacy will never be forgotten. His voice introduced us to Will Ferrell as a disgruntled tax collector in “Stranger than Fiction”; to Emma Thompson as a snaggle-toothed witch in “Nanny McPhee”; to Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones as the earth’s first defense against marauding alien immigrants in the inaugural “Men in Black” film.
And in honor of the man who was so very good at getting us stoked for coming attractions, we’ve rounded up some of his best work below:
You’ll be halfway through the trailer for “Men in Black” before you hear Douglas’s voice, but his dramatic delivery of the movie’s tagline (“Protecting the earth from the scum of the universe”) is worth waiting for.
“One wrong flight can ruin your whole day,” Douglas intones, as a gang of orange jumpsuit-clad bandits led by John Malkovich hijack an airplane in the always-classic “Con Air.”
And finally, the actor’s gifts are on full display in this demo reel, in which Douglas manages to make everything from a Michael Jordan IMAX movie to the Kentucky Derby to “The Great Mother Hunt” sound like the highest of high drama.
RIP, Hal. You’ll be missed.