Remembering Voice-Over Guru Hal Douglas

Hal Douglas

Hal Douglas

By Sean Tuohy

The best part of going out to see a movie in a theater is watching the previews.

Forget the popcorn. Forget the theater. Forget the movie as well. The previews really make the experience. From the moment you sit down in the thinly cushioned seat and set your feet down on a floor that is waaaaaaay too sticky, you are waiting for the previews to begin. You know when the previews begin because the lights dim slightly, you hear music, and then a booming voice bellows:

“In a world…”

Yes! The movie preview voice! We have all tried to duplicate the voice ourselves at one point or another. But it was a voice like no other that you could only hear during a movie preview. The voice guided you through two and half minutes of flashing images and told you to get ready for an exciting time.

Sadly, that voice is no longer with us.

Hal Douglas, the famous voice-over actor, died at the age of 89.

Douglas’s dominant and impressive voice added chills and thrills to movie previews. His most famous line of all time was “In a world…” and Douglas’ voice made you believe you were really in the world he was describing. From “Lethal Weapon” to “Waterworld,” Douglas had the ability to transport you from your cheap movie house to a world filled with action, one liners, and dames with short skirts.

Movie theaters are places of magic and wonder; places for escape that make you feel safe because you leave the problems of the world at the door. Douglas’ voice was a welcoming and comforting sound to hear because it reminded you that you had a two-hour vacation from the real world. Even though he was never on screen, Hal Douglas had an incomparable influence on modern film.

In a world…without his voice just ain’t same.

For more essays, check out our full archive