Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man: William B. Davis On Acting and X-Files


Where There’s Smoke… Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man

William B. Davis is a Canadian actor probably best known to American audiences as The Cigarette Smoking Man from The X Files.

William B. Davis writes about a life in theater and television.

He recently published “Where There’s Smoke…: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, a Memoir” that details his journey from growing up in a small town in Canada, performing as a radio actor on the Canadian Broadcasting Company, teaching and directing in Canada and England, and of course getting cast for a part with no lines on a low budget pilot that would develop into a cultural icon for the 1990′s.

I talked to Mr. Davis by phone at his cabin in the Pacific Northwest, and some of his stories include:
– watching a summer stock troupe rehearse in his basement as a child
– acting in radio productions for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
– meeting and working with an unknown Donald Sutherland at the University of Toronto in the late 1950′s
– getting a non-speaking part on the pilot of a new show called the “X Files”, only for that part to develop into the primary antagonist, “The Cigarette Smoking Man“, over the 9 year run of the show.
– dying 15 times on camera
– championing the skeptical movement

William B. Davis and the skeptical movement

What some people may not know is that despite Mr. Davis’ roles in the X Files and other sci-fi movies such as the upcoming “Singularity Principle”, he is also a vocal proponent of the skeptical movement as a member of The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry:

“What the skeptical movement is trying to do is… trying to say, ‘look and see what science has to shows us’, because the scientific method is really the only way we have of avoiding human bias, because human bias informs almost everything we do. We are so smart, humans are so smart that we are brilliant at defending really stupid ideas.”

He told me why he decided to write his memoir: “it had been in my mind for a long time, because I knew that my background was quite unique, and both the beginning and later part of my professional life were so unusual… It seemed as if I had a story to tell”.

Mr. Davis has written a great book about an interesting life. You can purchase his book Where There’s Smoke…: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man on Amazon

Special thanks to Rachel from Gal Friday Publicity!

This audio was originally released as Episode 24 of the WeRinCtrl Podcast in early 2012.

Brian Edward Smith is founder and editor of


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