FOLLOWING THE INTERNATIONAL ESPIONAGE DRAMA WHICH CONSUMED BERLIN RECENTLY,
WE INTERVIEW THE MAN WHO PORTRAYS THE FICTIONAL FIGUREHEAD OF SUCH GRAVE MATTERS.
MEET THE FORMIDABLE WILLIAM B DAVIS. ACTOR, WRITER AND X-FILES VILLAIN IN CHIEF.
MEET THE CIGARETTE SMOKING MAN...
INTERVIEW: MARK FERNYHOUGH
Was the process of writing your memoir "Where There's Smoke?" a pleasurable one?
I think everyone should write their own memoir.
Obviously it's selective, but it adds some kind of logic and some kind of form to your life.
It was especially fascinating to talk to people I haven't seen for fifteen years and re-live earlier parts of our lives whilst seeing how they
relate to where we are now. It was an amazing experience.
You're very candid in the book.
Looking back are there any parts you feel are too honest?
It's interesting that you should ask that question because I think if I did it again I might have pulled back at a few places.
I embarrassed my daughters and I was sorry about that.
Perhaps I was too candid about some people and some experiences but I wanted to write something that was truthful.
I've read a lot of memoirs and I don't like to read a memoir that is an apology.
I imagine (William) Shatner's autobiography is popular, but to me it's boring.
All he does is tell funny stories about life on the set of Stargate, and I guess to Stargate fans that's entertaining.
However, I don't know anymore about Bill Shatner after reading the book than before I started.
Gillian Anderson comes across as quite the diva...
Yes, I think that was shyness or her internal focus. She's changed a lot and I think she's now much more open and easy going than she was at the time.
She was probably quite nervous. The X-Files was a big break for her. But as a Canadian there is a certain way of behaving that I just assume.
I assume you say good morning to everyone when you arrive. It creates a good working atmosphere which I think is worth doing.
But Gillian didn't even speak to you when you came in.
How charming do you find Europeans and the French in particular?
I'm just getting used to living in France now. It astonished me when I accompanied my wife to her theatre class.
Everyone kissed each other on the cheek. People even kiss each other at the gym - we'd never do that in North America.
It's good though.
Do you plan to pen further books?
I'm embarrassed to answer that question...
I don't know whether it will be a little indulgence I publish under a pseudonym or whether it will be a best seller, but I've written a draft
of an erotic novel.
Could this be the influence of French-living?
France is romantic, the novel is erotic. I'm also drafting a book about acting, which is more rational and sensible.
Do you take an interest in other contemporary Canadian writers such as Douglas Coupland?
I'm a fan of Margaret Atwood and I do read a lot of Canadian authors, though I've never read Douglas Coupland.
How well do you think Canadian culture is represented throughout the world?
That's a good question and I think fiction is one of our strongest presences in the cultural world.
In film we're under the shadow of Hollywood. There's been some interesting Canadian films but they are not terribly well known.
We've certainly got our fair share of pop stars. I'm also excited to be part of the new science fiction series Continuum
which is made and set in Canada and being seen in 30 countries around the world. So we're making an impact.
What causes you to be so skeptical regarding the paranormal?
I think it's more obvious to not believe in these things. I've never seen an alien, I've never bumped into one, why would I believe in it?
I've always been skeptical in the sense of trying to find out what's underneath. I have a degree in philosophy because I always wanted to know
what the world was all about. After four years studying I found out no one actually knows.
What memories do you have of Laurence Olivier?
I had an interview with him to become an assistant director at The National Theatre. I expected to be grilled.
I walked into the room and he invited me to sit down. He then just stared at me.
So I just babbled until he said "Thank you very much". I got the job. Olivier wasn't interested in what I thought of him,
so he could concentrate totally on what he thought of me and study me. Remarkable.
How do you view the last X-Files film?
It was disappointing. We want to get some more meat out of the mythology.
It was just a monster of the week episode blown up for the big screen, which didn't quite work, I thought.
Would you return to your iconic Smoking Man persona if the opportunity arose?
Of course, like a shot. But the question is how they'd get me alive and younger, because I don't want to play the elderly smoking man.
I'd like to play the guy in power again.