William B Davis - "the nefarious CSM". Photo  N Joy

Having almost died out itself, The X-Files has been given at least another year to beguile us with dark tales of the unknown.

But will the Cigarette Smoking Man be returning with it? Or will his appearance in Season Seven finale Requiem prove to be his dying gasp?

no smoke

Interview by Melissa J Perenson

without fire

selected from Cult Times Special #14

In seven years of appearing on The X-Files, William B Davis – better known as the nefarious Cigarette Smoking Man – still hadn’t worked much with Gillian Anderson, the intrepid Dana Scully.

Determined to rectify that, Davis took matters into his own hands. He came up with a story idea, and approached executive producer Frank Spotnitz. The result: En Ami, one of Season Seven’s most endearing, surprise episodes – a throwback to the days of yore when a ‘mytharc’ episode pops up unexpectedly.

“The idea behind this episode was the first one I’d had that I really thought worked. About a year ago, I pitched it to Frank Spotnitz, we had some meetings on it, and we decided to move forward,” says Davis. “The manner of it changed, the style of it changed quite a bit, but the idea always was basically drawn from Richard the III, which has one of the greatest themes between a devil and a victim ever. The idea was always that CSM would endeavour to win Scully’s loyalty, support, affection, for really devious purposes.”

"As originally conceived, CSM had a confidante, so the viewer knew this was all a sham right from the top. That confidante was Diana Fowley, and they wrecked that by killing her [in the second episode of the season, Amor Fati]. So now the viewer sees it all through Scully’s eyes.”

It may be a good thing that Davis got his chance to work with Anderson this season after all. In the finale, Requiem, Davis is looking none too healthy – and his fate is left in an ambiguous state. “What can I tell you? I can tell you that CSM is very sick; he’s in a wheelchair. What happened to that sexy, handsome man?” Davis asks rhetorically. “And he has a rather unpleasant encounter with Krycek.”

Getting serious again, Davis – who regularly watches the show and follows not only his own character’s arc but that of others, too – offers his thoughts on the new twists in Requiem, before having learned the fate of the series.

“I’m totally impressed with how Chris Carter has structured this episode. I think it’s a terrific episode, and yet it would have been satisfying, I think, if it had been the last episode of the series. It is also a satisfying way to lead us into next season. It will also be satisfying if it leads us into next season without Mulder. It will also be satisfying if it leads us into a movie. So believe it or not, I think he’s covered all of the bases.” Davis laughs. “He’s really got a very clever spin on it.”

Melissa J Perenson

Buy Cult Times Special #14 for the full interview, plus all our coverage of Dead Special series from Angel to Xena via Randall & Hopkirk and Rentaghost

Image © Nick Joy
Feature © Visual Imagination 2000. Not for reproduction.