cover image Where There’s Smoke... Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man

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

William B. Davis. ECW, $19.95 trade paper (296p) ISBN 978-1-77041-052-7

A professional actor from age 12, Davis, now 73, is best known in the U.S. for his role as the “Cigarette Smoking Man” (or CSM, or “Cancer Man”), a villainous alien-conspirator in the television show The X Files, one of the touchstones of 1990s pop culture. But what audiences didn’t know was that the Canadian-born Davis was bringing a lifetime of theater experience to his role. In this amiable if overlong memoir, Davis spends most of his time describing a career spent “being close to the American theatre in the fifties, living in Britain in the first half of the sixties... and being in Canada in the late sixties and early seventies,” including fascinating encounters with such theater legends as Albert Finney, Maggie Smith, Peter Schaffer, and Kenneth Tynan. He also presents a vivid portrait of the developments—and often disarray—in Canadian theater education during the same period. Davis doesn’t really discuss The X-Files until the book’s last quarter, although he provides a nice backstage look at the episodes in which he starred. His most notable observation is that series creator Chris Carter and his producers and writers—as suspected by hardcore fans—“flew by the seat of their pants” in developing a conspiracy mythology “so convoluted” that Davis is “still trying to grasp it years later.” (Oct.)