William B. Davis


William Bruce Davis (born January 13, 1938) is a Canadian actor and director, best known for his role as The Smoking Man on The X-Files. Besides appearing in many TV programs and movies, Davis founded his own acting school, the William Davis Centre for Actors Study. In his personal life, Davis is an avid water-skier, lectures on skepticism at events such as the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry‘s CSICon, and advocates for action on climate change. In 2011 Davis published his memoir, Where There’s Smoke …. The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man.

In 1960 Davis went to England to train at LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). He worked in the UK for the next five years directing in repertory theatres and acting schools. He was artistic director of the Dundee Repertory Theatre.  His last position in the UK was as an assistant director at The National Theatre of Great Britain under Laurence Olivier where he worked with Albert Finney, Maggie Smith, Derek Jacobi, and Ronald Pickup among others. He returned to Canada in 1965 to work at The National Theatre School of Canada and soon, at the age of 28, was appointed artistic director of the English Acting Section. During this period he was also active as a freelance director at major Canadian theatres. In 1971 he joined the newly formed Drama Department at Bishop’s University in Lennoxvile, Quebec. While there he became the founding artistic director of Festival Lennoxville, a professional summer theatre that ran for the next decade.

Returning to Toronto in the late seventies Davis spent several years as a radio drama director and on the faculty of Humber College. In demand as an acting teacher during this period, he resumed acting after an absence of nearly twenty years. Davis earned a number of roles on stage and film before accepting the position of artistic director of the Vancouver Playhouse Acting School, which required relocating with his wife and family. Davis writes in his memoir, “And so, in the fall of 1985, we hitched our second hand boat to our second hand car and drove across the country”.

While his time at the Vancouver Playhouse was short-lived, he remained in Vancouver where he founded his own acting school, The William Davis Centre for Actors Study, a training ground for several future stars including Lucy Lawless.[10] Acting roles became more frequent leading to his iconic role, The Smoking Man (also referred to as “The Cancer Man”), on The X-Files where he made frequent appearances for the next nine years. In addition to The X-Files, Davis has played a wide range of roles, on series from Stargate SG-1 to Smallville and a host of television movies and other projects. From time to time he attends fan conventions, signing autographs and copies of his memoir.

In recent years Davis has returned to directing for theatre and film. He wrote and directed three short films and co-wrote and directed several episodes of a television series for CBC Television, 49th & Main. In 2011 he directed two plays for The United Players of Vancouver, Waste by Harley Granville Barker and Hay Fever by Noël Coward. Most recently he directed The Habit of Art (2013) by Alan Bennett, Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily (2015) by Katie Forgette and Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons at the Jericho Arts Centre in Vancouver, British Columbia.[15][16]

During that period, he also aired in 10 episodes of the Canadian hit show Continuum as Older Alec Sadler on Showcase. Most recently, Davis reprised his iconic X-Files role in the six-episode Season 10.

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