At home in Perth, Australia, Dacre Montgomery put on a G-string and filmed himself dancing to “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran.
He was shooting an audition tape for the makers of hit Netflix show “Stranger Things,” which was looking to cast a new second season regular, Billy. Any Halloween goers dressing as the new character will need to sport a blond mullet and denim jacket with popped collar. Billy is step-brother to tomboy Sadie, another new character in season 2, which started streaming Friday.
A huge fan of the show (he binge-watched the entire first season in one night), Montgomery needed to “blow it out of the park” to make the role his, he says. “I was lucky,” he tells me in a hotel foyer in Sydney. He’s wearing Adidas shoes and a silky green Cos shirt and buzzes with an energy that keeps him shifting on the sofa as we speak. “They saw something.”
Evidently, something more than the G-string.
For a sign of what to expect of Montgomery in the new season (aside from the mullet), he says Jack Nicholson in “The Shining” influenced his portrayal of Billy.
One thing Montgomery seems keen to make clear is that he knows fans might not react to Billy positively to begin with. “People are gonna be like, ‘This guy’s trying to be like Steve Harrington,'” (Steve being another character with big hair, a denim jacket and cocky personality). But by the seventh episode onward, things change.
“It gets hectic,” the actor says. “I’m not spoiling anything.”
Montgomery is a relative newcomer to Hollywood, though his CV includes the $100 million action movie “Power Rangers” earlier this year, in which he played Jason Scott, the Red Ranger and leader of the Power Rangers. The movie, based on the franchise of the same name, was his big break.
“Sitting at McDonald’s at 3 o’clock in the morning, I get a thing going, ‘Can you self-tape for ‘Power Rangers?'” Montgomery recalls. He was in the middle of doing Macbeth in the last year of university in Perth, his home city.
His manager (or more accurately his future manager because he hadn’t signed anything yet), told him the studio Lionsgate wanted him to be in LA the next day. So he traded his business class ticket for two economies and brought his mum along for the ride. A day later, the part was his. “Crazy, crazy times,” he says.
Montgomery’s parents, both of whom worked in the film industry, spurred their son’s interest in acting by taking him along on shoots. “It was just being on set, that adrenaline, the rush, the creation,” Montgomery says, with characteristically colorful hand movements.
Montgomery climbed the tiers of Hollywood fast. Just 22 months after finishing university he’d completed “Power Rangers” and “Stranger Things,” which shot in Atlanta.
“I could have had a couple of kids in that time, two and one growing,” he jokes.
Aside from “Power Rangers” and “Stranger Things,” Montgomery’s acting credits include an Australian movie he was cut out of, and “Better Watch Out,” a horror comedy movie. After “Power Rangers” the opportunities surged, but he’s picky about what he chooses to work on.
“I will read everything under the sun that might be made, might not be made, will be made, but I’m going to be really specific about what’s next,” he says. “I’m really trying to find something I love.” He calls himself a goanna, a reptile that will latch onto something and won’t release its jaw.
After “Power Rangers,” which Montgomery calls a “life changing” experience that threw him into training for all his own stunts, he continued to aim big. “Stranger Things” attracted him not only because he was already a fan, but because he thinks Netflix as a platform is a piece of history.
“The format that is Netflix, because it isn’t a studio, gives the artist, the individual, the platform to make real art, unhinged, uninhibited,” he says. “Netflix is changing the game.”
When he saw his name in the “Stranger Things” retro opening titles of an early-access link to the new season, Montgomery flipped a chair over in the penthouse hotel suite he was staying in doing “Stranger Things” promotion in Manila.
Montgomery was excited to work with the Duffer Brothers, the American director pairing of Mark and Ross, who found their breakthrough with the first season of “Stranger Things.”
“I love them because they’re kind of goofy,” Montgomery says. “They wander around making gold. They smashed it out of the park [with the first season] and the second season was the same. They didn’t get a big head.”
Nor, apparently, has Montgomery.
Rebooting the Reef: CNET dives deep into how tech can help save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef.
The Smartest Stuff: Innovators are thinking up new ways to make you, and the things around you, smarter.