Dacre Montgomery Goes from Bad Boy to Worse

Dacre Montgomery Goes from Bad Boy to Worse

Stranger Things' own Dacre Montgomery spoke with VMAN in the days leading up to the Season 3 premiere about fame, Billy Hargrove's downward spiral, and his upcoming podcast.

Stranger Things' own Dacre Montgomery spoke with VMAN in the days leading up to the Season 3 premiere about fame, Billy Hargrove's downward spiral, and his upcoming podcast.

Photography: Benjamin Askinas

Styling: Jake Sammis

Text: Maxwell N. Burnstein

In the third season of Stranger Things, Dacre Montgomery evolves into something very dark for his title character Billy Hargrove. Moving beyond the sexually charged bad boy seen in season 2 of Matt and Ross Duffer’s 1980’s sci-fi drama, Montgomery subverts his character's norms.

The 24-year old Australian native worked with the Duffer brothers on the character’s back-story as well as how the defiant Billy would evolve into an emotionally layered personality. Montgomery researched the work of Jack Nicholson as well as mental illness in an attempt to humanize the otherworldly side of the series. At the climax of the decade's most popular Netflix series, Montgomery grabs attention for his acting prowess.

Fans have waited two years to find out how the town of Hawkins would fare after the near invasion of the ‘upside down’. The eight episodes being released on July 4th show Montgomery’s role in the series escalate alongside his A-list co-stars. VMAN spoke to Dacre Montgomery from across the globe in the days leading up to the season premiere.

VMAN: How are you feeling about the release of the third season of your hit series Stranger Things?

Dacre Montgomery: I'm feeling really good. I think it's obviously a lot of time, work and energy with anything in this industry. There are so many components. I'm most excited because the story arc I was given this season for my character Billy was hugely rewarding. I was given a much bigger role in the world and just seeing that come to life was... amazing. Audiences and fans around the world that followed the first two seasons can now respond to this new performance.

VMAN: Your character, Billy Hargrove, goes through something very traumatic. How did that change your storyline?

DM: It takes a very dark twist. The promotional footage shows Billy as a lifeguard at the swimming pool, but that's just one side of the story. Very quickly it turns around and takes you in the other direction.. like whiplash. It goes to a far darker storyline for Billy, but has a really redemptive ending that I’m excited for audiences to see.

VMAN: Did you enjoy playing into the more supernatural?

DM: Definitely. I treated it more like an emotional disorder. I did a lot of research on what it means to be diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and personality disorders. Rather than people speculating if Billy was possessed, I played with the realistic idea that he's struggling between these two personalities. One side who has control, while in the background, the other side of that person is struggling to be present. I tried to play it from that level instead of the supernatural.

VMAN: How did research and character studies help you get prepare for the role?

DM: Jack Nicholson was a really prominent reference for the Duffer’s (show creators) to mention to me. He makes really interesting and unusual choices in his acting that keep the audiences on edge. I was encouraged to do that with Billy.

VMAN: Do you think you were successful in doing that?

DM: The biggest thing about this whole season was not playing a villain, but playing a human being. My constant effort was to humanize the antagonist. You can really feel that at the end of Season 3, which everyone will come to see.

VMAN: You became involved in developing your character. How did it feel to act out your own contributions?

DM: Extremely rewarding. Hats off to the Duffer’s for being so collaborative. They make you feel like your voice is heard on set. I wanted to know about Billy’s biological mother and the component that would play in the story of that characters journey which was something they wrote in.

VMAN: This season you work closely with Millie Bobby Brown. How did your relationship reflect what we see on screen?

DM: Millie is such a young talent with amazing emotional maturity. I like to think that I give it everything when I go on with any character, and to be met at that level, she’s just so invested. That's extremely rewarding as an actor to be receiving that kind of energy, which made it so much more powerful of a performance.

VMAN: What does it mean to part of one of the most famous casts in recent history? Or do you even think about it?

DM: I mean, it is a cultural phenomenon. I think you have to have a level of disassociation in order to just achieve your role in the process. I've been hired to do the job, which is my dream job, and I have to do my character justice. If you get caught up in the fanfare, you’ll get really stressed out, and I'm speaking from experience.

VMAN: What’s next for your career outside of Stranger Things?

DM: I'm working on a romantic comedy next called The Broken Heart Gallery, which is totally out of left field for me. That's exactly why I want to do it. I want to be challenged. It’s really an ego-stripping exercise. I need to take the piss out of myself in this movie, and I think that would be really good for me.

VMAN: Anything outside your acting that drives you?

DM: I’ve been writing a podcast called DKMH for the last two-and-a-half years that launches July 11th. It’s beat poetry over six tracks that I've written, narrated and collaborated on with musicians around the world to create scores for the poetry. Coordinating the whole thing has been a great side project.

VMAN: You’ve been very busy. When do you take time for yourself?

DM: What time (he laughs to himself)? I’ve been so fortunate.  I’ll take it as it comes.

Dacre Montgomery can be seen playing Billy Hargrove in the Third Season of Stranger Things out on July 4, 2019

Dacre Montgomery's podcast DKMH is available on all major podcast platforms like Apple and Spotify on July 11, 2019

Credits: Groomer: Lauryn Tullio, Set and Prop Designer: Seth Cook, Stylist Assistant: Dustin Ellis, Stylist Assistant: Camille Lepen, Photo Assistant: Olivia Kooyman

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