Red Ranger and Stranger Things star Dacre Montgomery, revealed recently how he gets into character when practicing for a role, and the reason why he became an actor in the first place.
The Australian native Montgomery plays Billy Hargrove, Max’s older step-brother in Netflix’s Stranger Things. The character was featured predominately in season two and three of the show. It was one of the first TV roles for the Power Rangers actor. In a recent interview with Netflix Queue, Montgomery talked about his background as an actor and how he nearly got kicked out of drama school several times and he explained why he finds theater a “draining experience” compared to film and TV acting.
Montgomery says he became interested in attending drama school because his parents had worked at the school. He says, “In the 90s, my mom did broadcasting at WAAPA [Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts], and my dad had done a bit of lecturing in the sound department there. I was just fascinated by it. My high school was on the same campus, so every day I had to walk through this renowned drama school. I’m not going to lie to you: I think there are a lot of ups and downs about drama school. The first year, I got asked to leave the course three times.”
In regards to why he asked to leave the school three times in his first semester, Montgomery talked about his poor attitude and inability to be a good student. He says: “I had spent so long manifesting this idea that I wanted to go to drama school, and once I was there, I was maybe a little bit arrogant. I didn’t want to learn Feldenkrais, I didn’t want to learn these multiple vocal techniques. There was a lot of stuff going on in my life: I got fired from my job, my girlfriend and I went on a break — all this stuff happened at the end of first year. The staff said,
‘Look, if you want to come back here after the summer, you’ve got to think long and hard about what you’re capable of.’ So I thought long and hard, and I came back, and we had our first public plays, and it was amazing. We did The Grapes of Wrath, Measure for Measure, a couple of contemporary plays — Punk Rock, The Golden Age. I loved it. I booked my first professional role on my 21st birthday. That was two weeks before I finished WAAPA.”
Montgomery worked in the film industry ever since. However, he does not rule out the possibility of returning to theater at one point. He says what he gets out of performing ons tase that he does not get from performing on a set. “In film and television, you rarely have the time to rock up on set and extrapolate on the character, the world, the ideas presented, or the meaning behind the story with the director and the other actors. That’s what I like about theater. I just struggle with nerves; I always have. That’s why I find it hard to audition in person..."
"Theater, for me . . . Even if we’re two weeks into a production and we’ve been performing to live audiences for two weeks, I’ll drill the whole play’s worth of lines about five times before I start every single night. It’s quite a draining experience, but amazing.”
Montgomery also shares some details about his acting process including arriving on set early. He explains, “Once I’ve left set, I’m gone. There are some pretty intense moments with Billy in Stranger Things, and I can’t leave with the character, so I’ll come to set eight hours before call, and I’ll just pace the soundstage for hours, get in the world. No one else is around me. Then when I walk on set, there’s no prep.”