William B. Davis played one of the most iconic villains in the history of television, the enigmatic Cigarette Smoking Man (CSM) on the television series The X-Files.
The X-Files is an American science fiction drama television series created by Chris Carter. The original television series, created by Chris Carter, aired from 1993 to 2002 on Fox. The program spanned nine seasons, with 202 episodes. A tenth season consisting of six episodes premiered on 2016. Following the ratings success of this revival, The X-Files returned for an eleventh season of ten episodes in 2018. In addition to the television series, two feature films have been released: The 1998 film The X-Files, which took place as part of the TV series continuity, and the stand-alone film The X-Files: I Want to Believe, released in 2008, six years after the original television run had ended.
Also known as “Cancerman”, Davis’ character was voted Television’s Favorite Villain by the readers of TV Guide. Rarely has a television character made such an impact on the popular culture of its time. A testament to the popularity of Davis’ character, CSM appeared on an episode of the Simpsons and was mentioned in the Barenaked Ladies song One Week (with the line referring to X-Files, "I hope the Smoking Man's in this one.").
His character was a mysterious operative who had top-level access to both the FBI and the Pentagon and worked with the Syndicate to hide certain truths from the American public. CSM oversaw Scully's initial briefing on her assignment to the X-Files to debunk the work of FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder, as well as her debriefing. He stole the evidence obtained by Mulder and Scully during the show's Pilot episode, and moved it to a secret, underground storage room at the Pentagon. Although uttering only four audible words in the entire 1st season of the show, CSM eventually developed into the series' primary antagonist. Davis’ character was most commonly referred to by this description because he was almost always seen chain-smoking Morley cigarettes, and also because like other villains on the show, he had no known real name.
"When the Cigarette Smoking man actually first spoke on The X-Files, we found out what a truly talented actor Bill Davis is. Now, in this absorbing , fascinating book about his rich and exciting life, we discover he's equally talented as a director, teacher, lover, skier, and much more." — R.W. Goodwin: The X-Files Executive Producer, Writer and Director