How The X-Files Created A Fan-Favorite Character Out Of Thin Air

The Cigarette Smoking Man, or CSM, as loyal X-philes call him, first appeared in the pilot episode of "The X-Files," hanging out in the corner of an FBI office, casting a lingering, authoritative gaze over a young Agent Scully. Without a word, we all instinctively knew there was something up with that guy, and none of it was good.

William B. Davis is the Canadian actor behind the smoke of CSM. Originally, he was hired to do exactly what you see him do in the premiere episode, which is creep in a corner and make us ask questions that would never get an official answer. He was so good at this that the show's creator, Chris Carter, decided to make him more than a background mystery.

By the end of the series, CSM would evolve from a shady, silent figure in a smoke-filled corner to the main villain of the series.

A background mystery

Davis' first appearance on "The X-Files" shows him lingering in the background, which has led some to believe that he was originally cast as an extra, and quickly bumped up to a cast member after nailing the role. While this is a great story, it isn't true. From the first episode, CSM was always an official character in the world of the show, standing in as a silent reminder of the looming conspiracy Mulder and Scully constantly had to fight.

Frank Spotnitz, a co-executive producer on the show, spoke with The Palm Beach Post about how Davis silently brought CSM to life, explaining:

"The character [was] very simply written and William [was] called upon to carry a lot of the weight of the character. He is utterly convincing. Even before he had words, he had looks where you could see his mind processing what he was watching and you could see there was intelligence behind his eyes."

Through Davis' brilliant portrayal, we know that CSM's intelligence is dangerous. He's the kind of guy that knows things that would break the rest of us and he isn't above using his knowledge to do just that. The show's creators figured if this man could bring all that to the character without speaking, why not give him lines and see what he does with them? And, that's exactly what they did.

The big bad

CSM's voice is first heard in a season 1 episode titled "Tooms." A.D. Skinner asks him if he believes Mulder and Scully's latest case report about an immortal, liver-eating, contortionist serial killer, and he replies, "Of course I do." Not groundbreaking dialogue, but it was a huge moment for fans of the show, because the enigma of the ever-present smoking man now had a voice. Throughout the series, his lines grew much more interesting, and the character became downright chilling.

You might think the mystery surrounding this shadowy man would slowly dissipate when he finally begins to speak, but you're clearly not an "X-Files" fan if you believe that. Like the official explanations that are given for the weird events in the series, The Cigarette Smoking Man is full of disinformation and outright lies. And, If he ever told us the truth, there is no way we would ever believe it.

CSM used his newfound voice to make a lot of claims in the series, including he's Mulder's father, he impregnated Scully, and he assassinated JFK, but who really knows? The only thing you can be certain of in the world of "The X-Files" is that nothing is for certain, not even the morality of The Cigarette Smoking Man.

Davis told The Palm Beach Post he is certain "90 percent of the audience hates the character," but he thinks CSM doesn't deserve it. He believes there are noble intentions behind his sketchy actions, saying:

"He's protecting the public from information they would not be able to process successfully. He's trying to keep society from becoming chaotic."

David thinks of his character as a father figure, shielding humanity from harsh truths that would drive us mad. Like most "X-Files" fans, I will forever pitch my tent in the "Smoking Man is a bad guy" camp, but who am I to argue with the man who made me love to hate him?