When Season 2 of Stranger Things rolled around in 2017, it gave fans a new villain to hate in the town of Hawkins, Ind. — Billy Hargrove. Sociopathically mean, Billy is a total bully who drives around in his blue Camaro torturing our fave group of kids. By 2019 and the debut of the show’s third season, our primary antagonist got even more screen action — this time, catching everyone’s attention, particularly the desperate housewives who admire his chiseled abs by the pool while he lifeguards. But who exactly is Billy Hargrove?
No, it’s not Zac Efron — a common mistake made by countless fans. The actor in question is a Down Under darling named Dacre Montgomery. The Aussie’s first major Hollywood role was as the Red Ranger in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot, but since catching the eye of Stranger Things creators Ross and Matt Duffer, Montgomery’s star has been on the rise. How does the on-screen bad boy feel about his sudden leap to the A-list?
“It’s been crazy,” he told Nylon. “I went out the other day and I had just a mustache — a thick mustache and glasses and a hat on — and literally couldn’t move around wherever we were at.” The new kid on the block is only going to get more famous, so let’s take a closer look at the untold truth of Dacre Montgomery.
His travel essentials are so not Billy
When fans found out that Dacre Montgomery participated in the GQ video segment “10 Things I Can’t Live Without,” they couldn’t help but wonder how similar he might be to his Stranger Things character. Does he keep toothpicks on him at all times? An endless supply of white shirts and worn-in denim jackets?
As it turns out, the actor is nothing like the wildcard Billy Hargrove. While Billy is totally vulgar and enjoys hitting on moms and torturing children, Montgomery is much more laid-back — a testament to his Aussie roots. He loves his sunnies, which are “so dirty” he can “barely see,” and he’s really into Tom Ford’s Black Orchid cologne, which he calls “woody and sweet.” He also suggests having a “good comb” to always keep your hair in check — perhaps something he picked up from rocking that epic ’80s-style mullet on the hit Netflix series. Finally, Montgomery mentions his trusty passport holder, which looks a bit beat-up and plump. Why so big, you ask?
It turns out, the actor actually has three passports! “My mum is Canadian, my dad’s a Kiwi, and I was born in Australia,” he said. When asked which passport he uses the most, the celeb responded: “I feel like Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, you can pretty much go anywhere on the planet and be welcomed with a smiling face.” Adorable.
No, Dacre isn't pronounced like daiquiri
In a segment for the GQ video series “Actually Me,” Dacre Montgomery goes undercover to respond to questions online. During his session, he answers the question we’ve all been wanting to ask: How the heck do you pronounce his first name? A point of discussion amongst his fans, one user hilariously tweeted: “Is Dacre Montgomery’s name pronounced like daiquiri?” The actor set the record straight. “So Dacre is just acre, like five acres to the next farm, right. A unit of measurement, acre.”
Montgomery’s family is descended from some iconic historical figures, who probably have something to do with his regal-sounding name. According to his IMDb page, Montgomery is “descended from Charles II of England (1630-1685), who was King of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from 1660 to 1685, and King of Scotland, from 1649 to 1651. This descent is through Charles’ daughter, Anne Lennard, Countess of Sussex. Pretty cool, huh?
While we all know to take such trivia with a grain of salt, the Stranger Things star actually confirmed that this tidbit was true in that same GQ video! “Yep, that’s all correct,” he says, noting that his mom’s family members are the Barrett-Lennards. “But I think my name is originally Celtic and then French, and there’s sort of different derivatives, I guess, of that.”
Dacre Montgomery, the brooding artist?
Dacre Montgomery launched a side project in July 2019 — one that Stranger Things‘ Billy Hargrove would scoff at. Montgomery is a poet and released his very own podcast! Titled DKMH, the podcast is a collection of the actor’s poems, set to artists such as Julia Stone and Matt Lange. As the celeb describes on the podcast page: “Beat poetry set to music … There are five core human drives that influence human behavior. To ACQUIRE. To BOND. To LEARN. To DEFEND. To FEEL … This podcast is a depiction of what DRIVES ME and how much my experiences have shaped who I am.”
Montgomery also discussed his pet project in a GQ “Actually Me“ video segment. “I started collating my beat poetry about ten months ago that I’ve been writing for the last few years and I built it into six tracks and then I reached out to musicians all around the world to compose scores, and I narrate my poetry. I’m very nervous, it’s very personal, it’s very close to me. I’m kind of excited for everyone to just hear what this is and hear what it’s about.”
As for the advertising he used for the launch? It’s just as artistic as the idea itself. Tweeting about the podcast the day it debuted, Montgomery also added the track titles on top of moody images of fragrances — surely echoing the nature of his poetry.
'Hungry like the Wolf' for a shot to be in Stranger Things
Dacre Montgomery’s audition tape for the role of Billy Hargrove in Season 2 of Stranger Things is totally unsettling. He pulls off sociopathic bully to a T. It also showcases a shirtless Montgomery donning sunglasses and dancing to ’80s classics such as “Come on Eileen” and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” A win-win, if you ask us.
When the internet caught wind of this audition tape, fans went wild. Even GQ interviewed the rising star about the video. “I sent off the tape at 11 o’clock that night, Australian time. And then in the morning we had a response saying, the Duffers want to Skype you on Sunday. They were kind of like, ‘Hey man. So we saw your tape, and, you know, it caused a bit of a stir at Netflix.’ Apparently it was played in the big board meeting.”
Clearly, Montgomery’s lively interpretation of Billy worked, but from whom did the actor draw inspiration for the role? Jack Nicholson. Speaking with Matt Fagerholm of Roger Ebert’s website, Montgomery said that Nicholson is “always keeping the audience on edge, even when he’s playing a good guy.” Considering Billy pulls off Nicholson’s creepy stare à la The Shining, we’d say Montgomery knows exactly what he’s doing.
Dacre Montgomery enjoys domestic bliss with his lady love
Dacre Montgomery and his model girlfriend, Liv Pollock, seem like a match made in heaven. Both Aussies, the duo has been dating since 2018 and even briefly lived together in Atlanta while the actor was filming Season 3 of Stranger Things. Speaking to GQ Australia, the lovebirds mentioned how much they loved creating their own space. “Especially when you’re away from home, building a world for yourself and building that comfortability … it’s been great,” he gushed.
It makes sense that the power couple fell head-over-heels with designing a home, considering these two share the same interests. “We are both also really passionate about design,” Pollock told the Daily Mail. “I’m studying architecture and Dacre has studied interior design so we were drawn to each other through our mutual love of design.”
Has Dacre’s newfound mega-fame on Stranger Things affected their relationship? “It doesn’t change anything, our relationship has been built on our similar values and an adventurous nature,” she told The Daily Telegraph. “Just because his career places him within the public eye, doesn’t and would never be a factor that we would let influence our relationship, nor should it.” Thoroughly enjoying their domestic bliss, Pollock revealed that the actor even cooks rigatoni pasta for her on some nights. Aww.
He really wanted to humanize Billy in Stranger Things
Billy Hargrove is the guy to hate in Stranger Things. — a far cry from the lovable goofball Steve Harrington (Joe Keery). Violent and unpredictable, Billy sends shivers down our spines, perhaps reminding us of our own childhood traumas. Dacre Montgomery perfectly explained this feeling to The AV Club, saying, “We all have a Billy in our lives.” Gulp.
That said, it was important to Montgomery that his character remain multidimensional. “He’s a misunderstood character, if you think about it,” he told Vulture. “…I really tried to humanize him as much as I could … I tried to empathize with him as much as possible. It’s hard, but he’s a human being. We all have elements of good and bad in us, and to successfully portray such a conflicting personality was a rewarding acting challenge that doesn’t come around too often.”
It’s tough to say if Billy will return for Season 4 of Stranger Things. Considering some fans are still holding on to a glimmer of hope that beloved Barb from the first season will return, perhaps we can all do the same for dear, sweet Billy, too.
Montgomery Dacre does his own stunts…and he's mighty proud of it
Everyone knows Dacre Montgomery is in fantastic shape. One look at lifeguard Billy in Stranger Things is enough to convince us! And because he was so fit, the Australian-born celeb actually did his own stunts in the hit series! “I love all that stuff,” he told Vulture. “…I’m at an age where I’m in good shape and not too much of a health risk for Netflix’s insurance people.” Montgomery added, “I grew up admiring stunt choreography, so I wanted to learn how it would be possible to do that, since [Season 3] has so much more action than in the past.”
Of course, Montgomery is active when he’s not on set, too. According to The Sun, his girlfriend got him into surfing and yoga, and he’s added other activities to his fitness formula. “[I] started doing night-time boxing classes at the gym and that gets you really cut. I loved that,” he said. “I think the best type of muscle for me is creating, not big muscle but dense muscle.” Considering Montgomery has revealed that he was “a big kid who loved drama” and “had a really tough time in high school,” it’s great to see the A-lister redefining possibilities and dominating the fitness scene.
Dacre Montgomery had to create healthy boundaries with Billy
When taking on intense roles, actors sometimes have to be careful not to let their on-set persona negatively impact their personal lives. Who could forget the late Heath Ledger’s turmoils while prepping for the role of The Joker in The Dark Knight? Dacre Montgomery’s Billy Hargrove is another menacing character. “[Billy] is a mean guy,” Stranger Things director Shawn Levy told TV Guide. “He has prejudices that are ugly.”
How did Montgomery create some healthy boundaries with Billy? Speaking to Vulture, the actor explained, “I have the same wind-down routine when I go to bed, whether I’m shooting or not … some TV, maybe a book.” Another element that helped Montgomery stay right-side-up: “I was in hair and makeup for so much time during this season … that it was easy to decompress in the chair.” The actor was well aware of the high stakes when playing a tortured role. “Especially with this kind of character, you can’t take it home to your partner or your family or your friends. You’d lose everyone or you’d become progressively more fatigued throughout an eight-month shoot,” he said. “There has to be a complete separation. You have to be able to switch it off. If not, you’ve got a problem.”
No, Dacre Montgomery didn't grow a mullet
There’s no denying Billy Hargrove had some iconic ’80s style. Even Swedish mass retailer H&M caught wind of the bully’s poolside vibes, creating a collaboration with Dacre Montgomery and Stranger Things for some Billy-inspired pieces. Another prerequisite of 1980s cool-guy swagger? A mullet, of course. Did Montgomery have to grow his own hair out to achieve such prowess?
“That wasn’t my hair at all. I guess that’s the sign of a good wig,” the actor revealed to Vulture. “In season two it’s my hair on top and a wig on the side, but [in season three] it’s all wig.” It looks like Montgomery could be becoming a style icon for the masses — even if he is rocking a look that many would consider, well, dated. “Do you know how many mullets I’ve seen wandering around Australia?” he told Triple J. “And I’m wondering if it’s that thing you notice when you’ve been working with it or is it something that has been around … I just never noticed it? There’s a hell of a lot of tradies with mullets around.” Oh, Billy, what have you done?
Dacre Montgomery has suffered from anxiety since he was a kid
Although he comes off as carefree and totally approachable, Dacre Montgomery has battled personal struggles since he was a preteen. In a video for the Child Mind Institute, the actor opened up about his history. “I’ve struggled with anxiety since I was twelve years old. Anxiety is a very real issue,” he said “…I also didn’t feel like I had a skill set to combat my mental health issues … I think it’s so important for everybody to know that you can get through it.”
Being bullied as a youth probably didn’t help Dacre’s anxiety. Speaking to LadBible, the star shared a childhood story that stuck with him. “I just remember a kid in school getting really upset with me about something I said in passing … With all their mates, [they] took me to the back of the school.” This sad story has a silver lining — that experience helped the actor get into the role of Billy. “It was really good for me to go to that lens of the bully and go, Jesus, they were really insecure about themselves.”
Montgomery also shared a high school photo and a moving message on Instagram to give other teens the strength to know they’re not alone. “You can do anything you set your mind to,” he said. “So, go out there and get it!”
Dacre Montgomery wants to help you 'escape'
There’s a reason Billy Hargrove became a fan-favorite on Stranger Things; it’s in part thanks to Dacre Montgomery. It’s clear the Aussie has some serious acting chops. According to Men’s Fashion Post, his parents worked “behind the scenes in the Australian film industry,” which gave their son an opportunity to become immersed in movies. “It’s a combination of all visual art,” he said. “It’s the set decoration, the cinematographer, the costumes — it’s so much art combined. I want to give people an opportunity to escape in characters they could get lost in.”
A cinephile to the core, he lists Into the Wild and The Big Blue as some of his “cinematic inspirations.” Having this kind of background must have prepped the actor for a smooth transition into Hollywood, right? Posting to his Instagram, Montgomery summarized his journey like this: “Every moment, every trial, every tribulation had happened for a reason and made me who I was. So that I could step in the shoes and the role and have the work ethic and maturity required, to make the most out of it.”
This Stranger Things star is a 'human sponge'
His rise to fame may feel instantaneous, but Dacre Montgomery has been preparing for this moment for years. He’s only been on the Hollywood scene since 2017, when he landed a role in Power Rangers. Even with his overwhelming success of Stranger Things, this superstar is remaining humble. “It’s been an amazing journey. I’ve been pursuing a career in this industry for a long time, so when I was finally given an opportunity, I didn’t take it for granted,” he told Complex. “For the last 24 months, I’ve been a human sponge, soaking up and learning as much as I can, both on and off-set.”
Montgomery believes there is always room for improvement and more to learn. “Every single crew member on the set has a different job. I try to learn about it. I look at the continuity of the scene, each nuance of a plate moving, a curtain shifting, and all these different things,” he told Men’s Fashion Post. “[You must have] Curiosity for everyone, everything. Every experience is so important to an evolving human. Not just to artists or people in the arts — to all human beings.”
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