In season 2 of the Netflix sci-fi series Stranger Things, it was 1984 and Californian siblings Max and Billy find themselves in Hawkins, and into the lives of Will, Mike, Dustin, and Lucas after all the horrors of the Demogorgon. Billy Hargrove, played by Dacre Montgomery, is now heating things up in Stranger Things 3. Now, it's summertime in 1985, the kids are no longer that little, summer romance is in the air, and a brand new mall is Hawkins' latest attraction.
While all things seem bright and sunny (and particularly hot now that Billy's on lifeguard duty) in Hawkins, we all know what's coming — terror is looming just around the corner, because evil never leaves and supernatural forces can take any shape or form. Dacre Montogomery's Billy in the series is the human form of terror from last season, the bad boy snatching the 'bully' title from Steve Harrington. Will Billy ever be tamed, and will he get a chance to redeem himself in the third season?
In an exclusive video call with ClickTheCity, the Australian actor shares more about bringing his 'Stranger Things' character to life, the 80s fashion and music, season three, and more:
Dacre Montgomery: Hey everyone! How are you doing?
Where are you guys calling from today?
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I am calling from Manila, the Philippines.
Oh nice! I've been to Manila a couple of times, yeah. Stayed in Makati.
That's where our office is!
No way? Yeah, we stayed at the Shangri-La.
Yeah. So you're Bea?
Yes, that's me.
I've never done one of these Google things!
Same here, it's my first time to do this. Okay, I'll just ask you a few questions. Your character is really the main human form of terror in season two. That's what I feel like. Where did you draw the villainous energy from, how do you prepare for such an intense role?
I think just people during my life, you know? I think you meet people and have experiences that you can relate as sort of as a quality to do not. I mean, whether it's you seeing something that happened in the street, or something's happened to you. And you can kind of embody what touches you as best as you can.
Everyone saw your audition tape from Stranger Things–it's online. How did you tap into the energy there? Like, is there an inner Billy hiding in you?
I don't know. I think there's some sort of every stereotype within every person. I think it's just about accessing that and the type was so far from myself in that audition tape. But I think elements of Billy rest in me, definitely. Just like elements of every character rest in all of us, you know? So it's just about channeling now. And also having fun. I think that type is just reflective of me having fun, and not really caring and just sort of going for it. Sort of full bodied performance. Yeah.
Speaking of having fun, is it more fun for you do play some sort of villain rather than a straight-on protagonist?
I think they both have different qualities, I think what I'll say is that they have this sort of unpredictable quality that I think Jack Nicholson has in a lot of his films. Just really interesting. I wouldn't say one is better than the other, because I think all of us love heroes and they're really amazing. I think what is awesome about a villain, or a good feeling when played well, is finding the human qualities in the villain. I think the most expressive villains or people that have done them successfully, have been people that have portrayed them as human beings. Not as just bad, like that.
How has your life changed since you got the role of Billy in season two?
Well, I got to go to Manila, yeah. And I went again, as well, the previous year. I'm lucky enough to travel. And I'm lucky enough to constantly be involved in reading scripts, which as a child, that was my dream, to be involved in the film industry. I'm lucky that I get to travel the world and going with my family. You know, a lot of normal things probably as well. You know, like financial stability.
Speaking of your family, what do your friends and family back home think about your character when they finally saw you?
They think he is a total dick! [laughs]
Same here! [laughs]
And so I try to be extra nice.
So do people, like when you walk around outside, do people recognize you even without the hair and mullet?
Usually I try and wear a hat. Like grow a beard out and just try to blend in. But who knows? Maybe one day, I'll put them all on and go for a walk through the city. See what happens.
If you could play another character in Stranger Things, who would it be and why?
That's a really good question. I've actually never got that question before. Hmmm. I don't know… That's a really good question. I really like David Harbour's role. I really like his role, [Jim] Hopper, because I think it has a really nice nuance and layer. It's very layered. But I think I'm probably partly influenced because his performance is so good. You know, I'm like, "Oh, I want to play that." You know what I mean? So maybe him.
Who did you enjoy working with the most on Stranger Things?
Well this season, my storyline is pretty much just with Millie [Bobby Brown]. So most of the time on set was just with her, and her family usually comes to set, my girlfriend or my friends usually come to set as well. So just sort of that group of us.
Last season there was this thing that Spotify did that they pair you with a Stranger Things character based on what you're listening to you. So do you think your taste is the same as Billy's in the 80s? Hair metal, rock?
I still like that music. Do you mean what sort of genre of music do I like? I like everything, I love jazz, classical, pop, hip hop, rap. Music, like, I don't really discriminate. Yes, that's a hard question to answer, I think.
Is there anything from Billy's fashion sense or 80s fashion sense in general that you actually enjoy?
Well, a lot of these fashion sense actually came from me. So, for example, I wear this necklace [shows his metal necklace] all the time. And that's the same necklace that Billy wears. And I mean, the jacket I wear is very similar to what I wear in real life. I wear a tank top, like a singlet under all of my clothes, usually in general. And Billy pretty much wears one the whole of season two and three. So yeah, it's actually closely tied to me. I think more than anything, with the influence of obviously the amazing wardrobe department who built jeans and got vintage clothing and all sorts of stuff.
What's the strangest thing you've heard from fans about your character?
I actually don't know, I don't think I've heard of any theories.
How about the one about Zac Efron being your child?
Oh [laughs] I haven't heard that! What do you mean, my child?
I mean, you're set in the 80s, right? It's a fan theory.
Ahh, I see what you mean. Yeah, I think I did hear about that at one point. That's pretty funny.
What do you feel is something that can tame or humanize Billy, maybe soften him a bit, or is it possible?
I think that scene in season two with his dad, you know? you sort of humanized him completely because he saw a person who had made him the way he was. His dad was so abusive towards him and judgmental and homophobic, and I think it's drawn someone into insecurity. I think exactly that scene, totally.
What's your biggest fear? Do you have a phobia?
At the moment? Flying. Yeah. I just had a little bit too much flying in the last few years, had a few little run-ins, and not just cannot stand any more at all. [laughs] But unfortunately, I can't do my whole career by Skype or Google, so… [laughs] I have to get on a plane!
If you had one day from filming Stranger Things that you can live over and repeat, which one would it be?
The final day of season three, in the final scene… I know that's open ended, but you'll find out in the next few weeks what happens. That. Definitely.
Oh wow, okay. What can your fans look forward to in this new season?
It gets much darker for my character. Much, much darker. But there's a really rewarding ending.
Any message for your fans here in the Philippines?
Well, I just want to say–look, I've been to Manila twice, stayed in Makati at the Shangri-La as I said, and people in Philippines is so lovely. Everyone's been amazing and really, really supportive of me and the show and I just want to say thank you. Thanks for watching the content. It's just rewarding to be a part of that and feel that love from the Philippines. So, thank you.
Stranger Things 3 will be available on Netflix July 4, 2019.