Up In Smoke with The X Files' William B Davis The X-Files’ William B Davis discusses the future of the Cigarette Smoking Man, Spender’s death, CSM’s link with Mulder and Scully plus his commendable real-life role as a charity fundraiser. By Ian Calcutt
selected from
Xposé Special #09

Can't find a copy locally?
You can order it

On The X-Files, the infamous Cigarette Smoking Man is a key player in the ongoing conspiracy to undermine humanity. In real life, actor William B Davis has schemes of his own – thankfully they’re about cancer charity fundraising. “It’s kind of an ironic twist with the Smoking Man being a spokesperson for not smoking and for cancer research,” says Davis. “It may not be [people’s] first expectation but they do seem to buy into it right away.”

His latest plan is for an Internet auction of exclusive X-Files memorabilia, as the actor explains: “We’ve got a series of items to aution, one of a kind, that have been autographed – in lots of cases – by almost the whole cast. There’s probably nothing that exists that’s been autographed by so many people!”

The auction will raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. “I’ve done public service announcements for them on their ‘quit smoking’ campaigns,” notes Davis. The 61-year-old actor lives and works (running a drama school) in Vancouver, Canada – the original home of The X-Files. He is now well-known for smoking only herbal cigarettes on the show, nor does he fully inhale. “The public attention that [The X-Files] brings to the issue makes me an obvious person to speak on it. I have a personal history of it. I’m an ex-smoker, I quit 20 years ago and I had a brother actually die of lung cancer so I feel quite strongly on the subject.”

Seasons five and six have seen fewer appearances of the Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM). For the bulk of season five, CSM was missing, presumed dead; while most of the character’s participation in Season Six was concentrated into the big two-parter, Two Fathers, One Son. The first half of this epic tale was narrated by CSM and, surprisingly, revealed the mysterious character’s name, or at least an alias – CGB Spender. Even Davis doesn’t know for sure.

“He is Spender’s father, so it could be that that really is his name. It doesn’t seem to bother me that I don’t have a name. To some extent now a name would probably startle me because it wouldn’t feel like the character that I feel like I am. It would have to fit and somehow I would have to personalize the name. I would have to imagine that I had lived with it.”

Davis hints that the seventh, and possibly final season is likely to delve further into this and other aspects of his X-Files character. “I think we will play with that possibility a little bit. But again, we’ll blow it up in smoke and we won’t know whether that really was his name,” he suggests, jokingly. He has even written an X-Files script of his own.

“I know that I’m in the first two of the new season,” Davis confirms, “that’s the plan... They’re trying to work the mythology arc through to some kind of... climax is probably a good word. I was going to say resolution but I didn’t want to say that because nothing is really ever resolved on The X-Files. Goodness knows what else could happen after this season!”

Have you seen our coverage of The X-Files in these recent issues of Xposé?
Season Six episode guide (and cover)
Xposé #37
Chris Owens (Spender) interview onlineXposé #34
Mulder's sister and mother (Megan Leitch and Rebecca Toolan)
Xposé #29
Top 10 pre-titles teasers selected
Xposé #28
Xposé Special #4 • X-Files for beginners - preparing for the Movie. Interviews with David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, Chris Carter and The X-Files' season five producers. xs04_special.htm
Making of the X-Files movie: lots of interviews!
Xposé #26 • #27
Please note: links are to details of each issue. Features are not necessarily on-line

Continued in Xposé Special #09

© Visual Imagination Ltd 1999
Images © Verve Photographics Ltd / Fox TV