William Bruce Davis (born January 13, 1938) is a Canadian actor, known for his role as the Cigarette Smoking Man on The X-Files. He has also appeared in Stargate SG-1 as Damaris, a Prior of the Ori and as Mayor Tate on Smallville. Most recently he has appeared in ABC's Masters of Science Fiction as the President of the United States.
Davis was born in Toronto, Canada, to an attorney father and psychologist mother. A former drama professor at Bishop's University, he is the founder of the William Davis Centre for Actors Study acting school in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is also a former national champion water skier. Despite being known for his smoking character, Davis actually quit smoking in the 1970s; when The X-Files started up, he was given a choice between herbal cigarettes and actual cigarettes. At first he chose the actual cigarettes, but switched to herbal shortly after for fear of becoming addicted again while playing the Cigarette Smoking Man.
In 2006, Davis filmed a role in WWE Films' The Condemned starring Stone Cold Steve Austin. Davis also hosts and narrates the series Critical Eye on the Science Channel.
In 1993, William B. Davis auditioned for a new show that was to be called The X-Files. He auditioned for the part of Section Chief Scott Blevins of the FBI, who had only a couple of lines in the pilot episode. However, he failed to get the part, but was instead provided with the role of a man in Blevins' office who smokes a cigarette and has no lines. But this character is involved in a cliffhanging close to the pilot episode, ensuring his return to the show. He has many more appearances on the show before he actually says his first word, by which time the viewer already clearly knows that he is decidedly evil. Few actors are able to command such power merely in their presence without a single word of dialogue. The use of the cigarette was brilliantly portrayed by the crew of the show and executed by William B. Davis. Once he began talking on the show, you couldn't stop him, and we were able to delve further into his character, and it now became clear what a great actor William B. Davis is, stealing any scene he is in. If you don't believe me, then see the episodes "Musings Of A Cigarette Smoking Man" and "En Ami", both episodes featuring William B. Davis in a major role. His role as the mysterious Cigarette Smoking Man ended up a better option to Blevins who faded out of the show, appearing in only a handful. While the Cigarette Smoking Man only appeared in around five or so episodes a season, it felt like so much more, courtesy of William B. Davis' presence. His terrific acting abilities made it feel that he was in double the episodes he was actually in, maybe even more.
He has since had guest appearances in notable shows such as Stargate: SG-1 and Supernatural, showing great performances.
William B. Davis really deserves the role of a show regular on a new television show. One that will run for many years. It is a real waste if his talent isn't used to its full potential.