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From the big moment the actor Dacre Montgomery is introduced as Billy Hargrove in the second season of Stranger Things—stepping out of a Camaro in the parking lot of Hawkins High School to the perfectly unsubtle soundtrack of the Scorpions’ “Rock You Like a Hurricane”—the 23-year-old from Perth, Western Australia, makes it clear he should be a star. Montgomery gives an undeniable performance as Hargrove, a sweet-faced villain-heartthrob with a mullet, a pendant earring, and a daddy complex, who colognes his crotch and laughs when he’s punched in the face. Even Montgomery’s audition tape for the role, which he shared with GQ, became a viral sensation for its committed intensity and shirtless ’80s dancing (in an off-camera G-string, it was revealed).
“It’s been great, man. I’m extremely grateful,” Montgomery says, calling from Perth, where he has spent the bulk of his time since just after the show’s premiere. “It’s been good to be home for the last five weeks, being in a calm space rather than the center of all of this amazing chaos in the States. I’ve been doing a lot of script reading and writing and exercising and having a lot of time for friends and family, trying to find the right next thing before we go into shooting season three.”
He is about to begin filming director Justin Kurzel’s The True History of the Kelly Gang, opposite Russell Crowe, about the 19th-century Australian outlaw bushranger Ned Kelly. Before Stranger Things, Montgomery’s breakout role was in the 2017 feature film
reboot Power Rangers, playing fallen star quarterback Jason Scott, the Red Ranger. Both parts called on the graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts to consider his physique, if in different ways.
“I did Power Rangers last year and the workout regime was super intense—a crazy three hours a day and meal plans—which was probably the best condition I’ve ever been in. But for [Stranger Things], I took a step back,” he says. “I feel like guys in the ’80s weren’t super-shredded and health-conscious, so I just did a lot of boxing and my diet was not as good, which made for a more realistic kind of body. So I’m a bit chubbier around the edges.”
The disciplined Montgomery typically does some type of two-and-a-half-hour workout every day. “Watching it back I was a little bit self- conscious,” he admits. “Growing up, I was a very fat kid and I didn’t lose weight, or try to lose weight, until just before university, so there was a part of me that was very self-conscious that the whole world is seeing this pudgier version of me than was in Power Rangers.”
He recognizes that when a young person is overweight, there is often a piece of that
experience that stays with them throughout their life, even if they’ve swanned and become a beautiful, validated, cut-up adult. “I’ll take that with me forever,” he says. “I wasn’t an attractive kid in school. Girls weren’t interested in me. I’m not trying to say it like it’s some big sob story, but it does inform who you are and your values and what you care about.”
Despite several Instagram posts during his Power Rangers regimen, Montgomery is not a proponent of shirtless gym selfies. “The photos of me that are online were shirtless progress shots that were taken by my trainers. But yeah, I don’t know,” he says and laughs. “I kind of had a big wig-out moment in L.A. I was included in this sexiest man column but it was like the abs column, with a bunch of others like LeBron and Bieber and they had all taken these gym selfies and I was like, I don’t know how I feel about this! But to each their own. And I wouldn’t get in the gym if I didn’t care about it a little bit even if I try to play it off right now as if I don’t.”
Speaking of Instagram, Montgomery takes a designed approach to his page. “I fully put
way too much thought into it,” he admits. He sometimes employs blank white placeholder posts that—after his following ballooned to 1,800,000 as a result of Stranger Things—can receive nearly 60,000 likes, always a fascinating phenomenon. “It’s crazy,” he says and laughs. “I get messages from my friends overseas who will screenshot the white square and be like, ‘Dude, what the hell is going on?’”
But Montgomery is serious about design. He recently completed an internship with the
L.A.–based celebrity interior designer Adam Hunter and has announced they will partner to open a restaurant in L.A in the next two years. He follows only one Instagram account, his own, for a project called Dacre Home or DKMH, which he is working to launch soon and is not yet ready to discuss. With precisely zero posts, the account has already accrued 18,000-plus followers.
PHOTOGRAPHER MARIO SORRENTI
FASHION CARINE ROITFELD
CREATIVE DIRECTION THE STYLE COUNCIL
GROOMING CHERI KEATING
ON-SET PRODUCTION JOY ASHBURY
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