dacre montgomery is netflix's next big thing
You might not have heard of him yet, but young Aussie actor Dacre Montgomery is about to be catapulted to fame as the star of Stranger Things’ second series.
This article originally appeared in i-D's The Creativity Issue, no. 348, 2017.
Dacre Montgomery isn't like most 22-year-olds. He barely drinks, rarely parties, and hardly ever posts on social media. In fact, he doesn't really like being on his phone at all. Then again, Dacre isn't most 22-year-olds. Having been cast in the second season of Stranger Things, one of the most successful shows in Netflix history, there aren't many 22-year-olds in the entire world who are about to reach the level of fame that awaits young Dacre.
Not that he seems fazed. "I don't really get nervous," he assures us on the phone from L.A., "I feel confident, it feels right." With filming still ongoing, and the focus of season two still very much shrouded in mystery, Dacre is in that unsettling position of being touted as Hollywood's next big thing, without any of his work out yet to prove it; nonetheless he remains totally relaxed. Then again, this seems to be a bit of a theme with Dacre. In 2015, he was flown out to L.A. last minute for a screen test, for one of the lead roles in the upcoming blockbuster film, Power Rangers, without so much as an audition tape or an IMDb profile to his name. He got the call out on Friday, flew to L.A. on Saturday, tested Sunday, and was offered the part on Monday. To put this all down to chance or to merely being in the right place at the right time, would be to underestimate him, because behind the scenes is an incredibly hard-working, highly ambitious young man.
Jacket and T-shirt Diesel Black Gold. Tracksuit bottoms Lacoste. Trainers New Balance.
Born in Perth, Australia, to a Canadian mother and Kiwi father, who met working in the industry, a career in film was in Dacre's blood. "There's something about being on a film set," he muses, with his thick Australian accent giving way to an occasional American twang, "it's the adrenaline, the rush. It's like a drug. As a kid, my parents would work all these crazy hours, creating these amazing projects. I was like, 'I want to be a part of that.'" So he went about doing just that, taking up acting lessons at the age of 10 which he continued right up until he enrolled at the prestigious Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts in 2015. Of course, by this point, Dacre had already outgrown the kind of acting work that was on offer in Australia. "The Australian entertainment industry is fantastic, but it's a cottage industry," he admits, "I was watching a lot of American films and TV and just thought, 'I want to get over there, how do I do it?' so I worked on my American accent, reached out to a few agents and started working out how I could market myself in America." That spring, just a few months before graduation, he landed the role of Jason, the hunky Red Ranger and leader of the gang, in the soon to be released Power Rangers reboot opposite Bryan Cranston and Elizabeth Banks.
A similar thing happened with Stranger Things, the critically acclaimed Netflix show about a group of small town kids whose lives get turned upside down with the arrival of a demonic beast from another dimension and a strange girl with telekinetic powers. Like the rest of the world, Dacre had binged watched the first season last summer and was instantly obsessed.When the part of newcomer Billy was advertised, Dacre was back in Perth. Once again, after a single Skype call with directors Matt and Ross Duffer, he got the part. In fact, the first time they actually met face to face was on the first day of shooting. "When the audition came up, I was like 'holy shit' because I was such a fan of the show," he gushes "But I didn't have any work out, so I couldn't show them anything. I knew I had to blow them away so I ended up making a short film. There was no script so I had to improvise, I even made title credits and put music under it."
Cast in the role of Billy, Dacre will play one of season two's main antagonists. "With Billy they wanted to play on the idea of the human monster being far scarier than the fictional monster," he explains, "Billy's a very fun, full on person but then inside, he's this crazy human being." Unlike his role in Power Rangers, for which Dacre trained militantly for three hours a day, six days a week, when getting into character for the role of Billy, it was all about letting go. "I don't really drink, like ever, I probably go out once every two months and have a big night with my mates. But Billy is the opposite, so to get into character I was like 'I'm just going to go out and have a big weekend'. So I went out and got totally loose."
Whether it's his role as the teenage superhero heartthrob in Power Rangers or more likely as the badass villain in Stranger Things, one's thing for certain, Dacre Montgomery is about to blow up. Just look at what happened to Millie Bobby Brown and the rest of the kids from Stranger Things. They've become worldwide sensations, appearing on chat shows, starring in ad campaigns, music videos, attending award ceremonies and fashion shows and even being transformed into internet memes. Their lives will never be the same again, and neither will Dacre's. In fact, it's already begun. Click on his Instagram, and you'll see he's already amassed over 50k followers, most of whom are young girls between the ages of 11-18 who've already fallen truly, madly deeply in love with him. Sure, most of his feed consists of topless photos or images of him looking broodingly into the distance, his movie star haircut perfectly framing his face, but no one's actually seen anything he's been in yet.
"It doesn't really faze me," he muses, when we get onto the subject of fame, "I'm not looking forward to losing my anonymity. I didn't get into this because I wanted to be noticed or get rich, and I don't get sucked into the whole social media thing. If that ever changes I'd drop out." Cool, calm, and confident, Dacre sounds like he's been in the business for years. If this is how he sounds only two roles in, there's no doubt he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him.
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Bruno Staub
Styling Julian Jesus
Hair Tamas Tuzes at L'Artelier NYC. Make-up Sofi Chernyak. Photography assistance Evan Browning. Styling assistance Join Chantisa.