William B. Davis
|William B. Davis|
William B. Davis in 2011
|Born||William Bruce Davis
January 13, 1938
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
|Children||2 daughters, Melinda and Rebecca|
William Bruce Davis (born January 13, 1938) is a Canadian actor and director, 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, works with the Canadian Cancer Society and lectures on skepticism most recently at Committee for Skeptical Inquiry's CSICON. In 2011 Davis published his memoir, Where There’s Smoke .... The Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man. He currently stars as the elderly Alec Sadler in Continuum.
Davis was born in Toronto, Ontario, to a lawyer father and psychologist mother. He began his acting career as a child in 1949, in radio drama and summer stock theatre. His cousins Murray and Donald Davis ran The Straw Hat Players in Ontario in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and rehearsed in the basement of Davis' house. When they needed a boy they gave William his first professional acting job. He went on from there to have a career as a boy actor on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio before his voice broke. In 1955 he enrolled in the University of Toronto to study philosophy, but actively pursued a career as an actor alongside future actor Donald Sutherland. In 1959, he graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy. While at university he switched his attention from acting to directing and with his partner, Karl Jaffary, took over and ran The Straw Hat Players for four years.
In 1960 Davis went to England to train at LAMDA (The London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art). He worked in the U.K. for the next five years directing in repertory theaters 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 free lance 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. Acting roles became more frequent leading to his iconic role, The Smoking 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.
Currently, he is acting in a recurring role in the Canadian hit show Continuum as Alec Sadler on Show Case.
Despite being known for his smoking character, Davis quit smoking in the 1970s; when The X-Files started up, he was given a choice between herbal cigarettes and tobacco cigarettes. At first, he chose to use tobacco cigarettes, but switched to herbal because he was afraid of becoming addicted to them again. Davis used his notoriety on the show to assist The Canadian Cancer Society in its programs to combat smoking.
He is also a former national champion water skier and for a time held various records in older age divisions. In a conversation with Brendan Beiser, Davis states he holds the record for tricks in his age category, and until recently "I did hold the slalom record until this past year until some young whippersnapper of 65 from Ontario took the record away from me".
Davis now divides his time between North America and France where he recently married Emmanuelle Herpin who lives and works in the south of France. He has two daughters, Melinda and Rebecca, from an earlier marriage.
While on The X-Files, Davis was constantly challenged by The X-Files fans about his non-belief in the paranormal and aliens. Davis credits Barry Beyerstein and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) for introducing him to the skeptic community. Davis became increasingly involved in the skeptical movement and began to give lectures as a skeptical spokesman at universities across North America and at skeptic conventions, including CSI's CSICON in New Orleans.
When asked about his belief in the paranormal at the London Film and Comic Con in 2010, Davis replied, "The onus is on you to prove the extraordinary ...I did a lot of research and saw where a lot of the arguments were wanting."
Interviewed by Jacob Fortin on guilt about being a skeptic on a show that Richard Dawkins campaigned against, Davis replied that at first he had some trepidation until realizing that Dawkins "had no evidence whatsoever and presented none" that the show encouraged people to think uncritically. "The show is fiction... it isn't a documentary." Asked about a debate Davis moderated with alien abduction believer John E. Mack, Davis said that many people expected him to support Mack, but they discovered that he was "way on the other side". Davis recounted that he had some great discussions with Mack; "He was brilliant... he was wrong, but he was very good... One of the problems with human intelligence is that we are so good at defending ideas that we arrived at irrationally."
|1983||The Dead Zone||Ambulance Driver|
|1984||SCTV Channel||Man on the phone||TV series - Half Wits Save the World Parade|
|1985||The Cuckoo Bird||Ted||TV Movie|
|Head Office||University Dean|
|1986||The Beachcombers||Dave Douglas||TV series - Trial Balloon|
|1987||Deadly Deception||Lawyer||TV movie|
|Sworn to Silence||Peter Massio||TV movie|
|Airwolf||F.I.R.M. official||"The Key"
"Stavograd: Part 1"
"Stavograd: Part 2"
|The Little Match Girl||Dr. Sam Easton||TV movie|
|1988||Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future||Arvin||TV series Judgement|
|Danger Bay||Frank Norris
|TV series Racing Against Time
|1989||Beyond the Stars||Hal Simon|
|Matinee||Heath Harris||TV movie|
|Look Who's Talking||Drug Doctor|
|Wiseguy||Curant / Inspector #2||People Do it All the Time
The Merchant of Death
|1990||Anything to Survive||Dr. Reynolds||TV movie|
|It||Mr. Gedreau||TV movie|
|1991||21 Jump Street||Judge Harrison
"Mean Streets and Pastel Houses"
|Omen IV: The Awakening||Lawyer (uncredited)||TV movie|
|The Hitman||Dr. Atkins|
|The Commish||Don Chesley||TV series
"A Matter of Life or Death: Part 1"
"A Matter of Life or Death: Part 2"
|1992||Diagnosis Murder||Marvin Parkins|
|Street Justice||Badgely||TV series - "Homecoming"|
|Nightmare Cafe||Doctor||TV series - "Sanctuary for a Child"|
|1993||North of 60||Inspector Nelson||TV series - "Out of the Blue"|
|The X-Files||The Smoking Man||TV series|
|1994||Heart of a Child||Vern||TV movie|
|Beyond Suspicion||Capt. Dick Roth||TV movie|
|Don't Talk to Strangers||Huddleston||TV movie|
|1995||Dangerous Intentions||Group Leader|
|Not Our Son||Police Chief||TV movie - uncredited|
|Circumstances Unknown||Gene Reuschel||TV movie|
|Sliders||Prof. Myman||TV series - "Eggheads"|
|Courting Justice||Dr. Alexander||TV movie|
|Poltergeist: The Legacy||Dr. Bill Nigel||TV series - "Do not go Gently"|
|The Limbic Region||Teacher||TV movie|
|1998||The X-Files||The Smoking Man|
|The X-Files Game||The Smoking Man||Video Game|
|The Last Tzaddik||Mr. Drazien||short|
|Voyage of Terror||Dr. Norman Ellisy||TV movie|
|1999||Mentors||Sir Arthur Conan Doyle||TV series - "The Truth is in Here"|
|Murder Most Likely||Detective Inspector||TV movie|
|2000||Perpetrators of the Crime||Henderson|
|Killing Moon||Ed||TV movie|
|Becoming Dick||Dr. Hardwin||TV movie|
|The Fearing Mind||Michell Cofax||TV series - "Gentleman Caller"|
|2001||The Proposal||Angent Frank Gruning|
|First Wave||Sagon||TV series - "Checkmate"|
|Out of Line||Russell|
|The Outer Limits||Dr. Biemler
|TV series - "Worlds Within"
"Out of Body"
|Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back||The Smoking Man||uncredited|
|Mythquest||Head Priest||TV series "The Oracle"|
|Andromeda||Professor Logitch||TV series - "Pitiless as the Sun"|
|Aftermath||Deputy Director Edwards|
|Damaged Care||Dr. Sam Verbush||TV movie|
|Body & Soul||Dr. Edward A. Esseff||TV series|
|The Thing||Col. Whitely||Video Game - voice|
|Saint Sinner||Father Michael||TV movie|
|100 Days in the Jungle||TV movie|
|2003||Broken Saints||Benjamin Palmer - voice|
|Arbor Vitae||Old Soul||short|
|Smallville||Mayor William 'Billy' Tate||TV series - "Relic"
|Word of Honor||Lewis Kaplan - Tyson's Boss||TV movie|
|2004||Snakehead Terror||Doc Jenkins|
|Kingdom Hospital||Dean Swinton||TV series - "The Young and the Headless"|
|The Cradle Will Fall||Dist. Atty. Alex Myerson||TV movie|
|Lyon King||Finance Minister||short|
|Murdoch Mysteries||Alderman Godfrey Shepcote||TV series "Expect the Dying"|
|The X-Files: Resist or Serve||The Smoking Man||Video game - voice|
|2005||The Cost of Living||Mark Mortinson||short|
|The Last Round||Mitchell|
|Tilt||Father Mike||TV series - "Nobody Ever Listens"|
|Max Rules||Rick Brinkley|
|Robson Arms||Dr. Carlisle Wainwright||"Aftershock"
"The Loney Passion of Mr. Tan"
"A Material Breach"
|Dark Pines||Shannon Fraser||TV documentary|
Ori Prior Damaris
|"The Fourth Horseman"
|2006||Supernatural||College Professor||TV series - "Scarecrow"|
|Dark Storm||General Killion||TV movie|
|Her Fatal Flaw||Richard O'Brien||TV movie|
|The Secret of Hidden Lane||Judge Landers||TV movie|
|Canadian Comedy Shorts||finance Minister||TV series - "Episode #10.9"|
|2007||The Messengers||Colby Price|
|Judicial Indiscretion||Senator Garland Wolf||TV movie|
|Masters of Science Fiction||The President||TV series - "The Awakening"|
|2008||The Femme Fatale||Sam||video short|
|Fear Itself||Father Chris||TV series - "In Sickness and in Health"|
|Something Evil Comes||Mr. Dutton||TV movie|
|The Shortcut||Benjamin Hartley|
|Caprica||Minister Chambers||TV series - "Pilot"|
|Web of Desire||Dr. Charles Friedman||TV movie|
|Human Target||Whitey Doyle||TV series - "Run"|
|Medium Raw: Night of the Wolf||Dr. Robert Parker||TV movie|
|Flowers for Norma||Older Gentleman #2||short|
|2011||Goose on the Loose||Alphonse David|
|Behemoth||William Walsh||TV movie|
|2012||The Tall Man||Sheriff Chestnut|
|Motel de Gracia||(rumored) pre-production|
|Continuum||Alec Sadler (2077)||TV series|
|Singularity Principle||movie||Lawrence Cason|
- Davis, p. 4
- Brendan Beiser (June 16, 2008). "William B. Davis - This Conversation". This Conversation TV. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "William B. Davis on Fame Dragon Con 2010". 2010-09-12. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Fred Euringer (2000). A Fly on the Curtain. Oberon Press, 978-0778011415. page 103.
- Davis, p. 112
- "History 1960-1969". National Theatre School of Canada. 2008. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "Program Advisory Committee". Vanarts. 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "Festival Lennoxville". Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia. 2006-11-17. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Davis, p. 210
- "Expanded Bio for Lucy Lawless". Lotolux. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- "William B. Davis Interview". LSQTV 2010. 2010-07-18. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- "William B. Davis - News". Official site of William B. Davis. Retrieved 2011-12-16.
- Nuytens, Gilles (October 11, 2005). "Interview with William B. Davis". The Sci Fi World. Retrieved July 11, 2009.
- "Potpourri". Tobacco Control. Retrieved 2011-12-03.
- Allison Cossitt (March 1998). "Cigarette-Smoking Man". Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 2011-12-07.
- John Semley (October 18, 2011). "Random Roles: William B. Davis". A.V. Club. Retrieved 2011-10-26.
- Jacob Fortin (2011-12-22). "The Good Atheist Podcast: Episode 154". The Good Atheist. Retrieved 2011-12-25.
- "William B. Davis, Amazon Falls, Toronto Film Festival". Real TV Films. 2010-10-05. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Davis, William B. (2011). Where There's Smoke: Musings of a Cigarette Smoking Man, a Memoir. ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-77041-052-7.
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