‘Stranger Things’ Star Dacre Montgomery Talks Billy’s “Emotional” Journey in Season 3 | In Studio

‘Stranger Things’ Star Dacre Montgomery Talks Billy’s “Emotional” Journey in Season 3 | In Studio

– Hi, I’m Dacre Montgomery, and you’re watching In Studio
with The Hollywood Reporter. – We were talking a little,
a few minutes ago about you being a fan of the
show, of season one, and then you got cast
for season two as Billy. You sent in an audition tape. Can you sort of talk
about, was that your idea? – Yeah, I’d just got it
and I did it in the day that I received the email
about doing an audition. I kind of thought I needed
to be able to stand out because the show was
already such a huge hit three months post-release the first season or whatever it was. And then kind of went all out, but I believe in taking risks and it’s a competitive business. I like that I took an artistic
leap, big risk in this in many ways. – Part of that was Kiefer
Sutherland’s bit from Stand By Me, is that right? One of my favorite movies. I feel like Billy has a
little bit of that in him. Was that one of your influences when you were sort of like crafting? – Totally, yeah, well I
think when they had given me that scene, they hadn’t
obviously written too many, a huge amount of scenes for Billy yet. So they gave me, the other
scene was from the script, what became the car scene
with Max in the show. And then the other scene
was obviously Stand By Me. I think there were certain qualities, I was given a lot of Jack
Nicholson’s kind of career, I guess, to look at in general. I think he makes unusual,
unpredictable choices that keep the audience on edge. I was encouraged to do something similar. But the Duffers are great. I think I don’t really believe in copying someone else’s performance,
so they were great about building a new character from scratch and building the arc right
from season two through three, even when I started discussing the whole kind of course of Billy’s
journey right up until the end of the season you will have
all just finished watching. – So you knew from the
beginning that that was gonna be his arc basically, is that right? – And his end. – Oh, exactly. What kind of expectations
did you have going in, and what was the experience
actually like for you as a fan of something
to then be part of it? – I think you have to
separate yourself in some way from the fandom portion and the world so you can contribute to
the story in a real way. Do you know what I mean? Separating yourself in
some way shape or form. In terms of the actual experience, it was fantastic. It’s such a tribute to the Duffers being such collaborative artists. That’s why the show is so
successful I think in many ways. There’s a sort of handcuffs
feel like they’re off and you feel free and you
feel like you can create and it evolves as you
go through the process rather than feeling like it’s concrete from screenplay through the post. It doesn’t feel concrete. It feels like it’s
ever-moving and changing. And I think I admire Netflix for being a new, relatively, company that is able to give their artists that outlet to be able to change throughout
the process, I admire that. So it was better than my expectations. And you were asking me
before about watching it and can you separate yourself. I think you can because I think as a lover of film and
television, cinephile, when I look at product, I look, the best film and TV is
something that successfully creates escapism for me, and I think this show is able to do that and that’s why I’m able
to separate myself. Even though it’s an ensemble cast and there’s different
storylines happening, I’m able to separate myself
because of the cinematography and the score and everything
is just so fully realized. Yeah, I think that’s
what makes it what it is. – It’s so good.
– What Stranger Things is. – It’s so special. And I know Billy’s kind of like bad guy, but I found in season two, I
found him really refreshing. We had Steve in season one,
but it’s totally different. It’s like a very different
type of character. But if you’re gonna have
some sort of archetype of, some form of like the bad guy
or antagonist or whatever, but I still found it refreshing. And then especially towards
the end of season two, when you sort of understand
why he is the way he is, the scene with his dad and everything, that was really eye-opening
for the character. Did you know that also in the backstory? – It wasn’t written. I actually asked the Duffers. I said he can’t be bad because he’s bad. We’re all human beings, right? And I was interested in
humanizing the villain, and they’d spoken a lot about that. And they wrote that scene after we’d already shot episode four, they wrote that into the script after I had that conversation with them. And I think it was really good because what we’re interested in is the gray area between good and bad. That’s what’s interesting, right? That’s what drama spawns from for me. But I don’t feel like there is,
like we’re all human beings, and I think sometimes
the question is, well, how do you separate yourself
from playing that character, that’s such a bad person,
and I think, well, there’s qualities of that
person in me and vice versa. And I think it’s about finding
empathy for the character that you play, no matter what it is, and that’s how you can
humanize the villain, which was a quote that
I think Stephen King had once given that the
Duffers had refreshed to me a lot throughout the
shooting process in season two. – How do you expect fans
are going to be reacting now after season three? Is it similar, you think, to season two, or do you even, do you hear about fan reactions to your character? – Not a huge amount, I’m
not great with social media and all those sort of outlets.
– Yeah, me neither. – But I am interested to sort
of see how they’ll respond. I’m excited. I feel it was a great season even though we see Billy immersed in this fantastical kind of sci-fi
component this season. I tried to treat it like,
so he’s possessed, right? He’s Billy the flayed or whatever, but I did a lot of study
on people with bipolar and split personality disorder and how one personality
has the spot and control over the being and how the other personality
can be suppressed. And in this season, I try to
treat Billy like a lacky band and he’s so taut and torn. And I try to play the flayed Billy, my physicality and the
real Billy behind the eyes, and in the end, we see
that lacky band snap. And I think it’s actually
a really redemptive ending and a really fantastic
payoff for the character, and I’m lucky that I have that arc, lucky to be part of the series. – Because it’s also, it’s a little sad in the first couple of
episodes, when you see Billy with Mrs. Wheeler at the pool and he sort of pushes her away so you can tell there’s
that human side of him who doesn’t, at first, you
have this flirtatious thing, which we could also talk forever about, Billy and Mrs. Wheeler, I
won’t do it to you though. But yeah, you can tell, it’s just, there’s this very innocent woman and then also with Max, there’s a scene where he’s talking to her. So it’s like, you can tell
that there’s that struggle inside him. But I kind of also want
to go back a little bit. I found out you’ve been acting
basically your entire life. – Well, I’ve been giving it a
red hot go, but I don’t know. I’ve been lucky of late, but yeah, I had a long
time I was giving it a go. – When was it that you
wanted to be an actor? Do you remember what, was it a movie? – Both my parents work
in the film industry, and I grew up on set. I don’t know. I think I fell first in love with the adrenaline of a film set. It’s like a family, 14
hours a day every day, and you just live for that,
there is nothing else. Then I fell in love with escapism, which is what I touched on earlier. My dad used to take me to films and just being, finding films on occasion that took me places that don’t exist, I was fascinated by it. And then I told my parents, look, I want to be in front of the camera. Luckily, I had really
encouraging parents, who, for that 10-year period
when I didn’t book anything and I always wanted to go to acting school and so on and so forth, they
helped me pay for everything and stuck it out. I think a lot of families
might, think, look now, it’s time to move on
and try something else. – Well, they probably understand sort of what you’re going through since they are a part
of the film industry. If this is what you want to
do, this is what it entails, and they probably have a little
bit more of an understanding than most parents. – Yeah, I was lucky, yeah, totally. – Because yeah, you went to
like proper drama school also. – In Australia. That was the first piece of luck, I guess that meant the preparation, was getting into school. I had a lot of growing up to do. I think if I booked a role
before I got into university, I think I would have really
messed up my chances. So it’s good. – Your chances at what? – I don’t know, having
a real shot at a career and being really mature and motivated. And I don’t think I had the
work ethic that I do now in the same way. You fell in love, you learn, if you’re gonna have your
heartbroken, a bit of everything, and I think that’s so important in terms of growing up. And I think if I can take
that elevated kind of life experience or emotional
maturity into my work, then I think it’s an important thing to come into this industry with a good head on your shoulders and keep your family and
friends around and keep humble and focused and read
everything under the sun and be really particular
about what you pick every opportunity or are given and every next step you
take in this industry. And I’m so excited to finally sort of be given an opportunity. – And now, what goals do you have now, now that you’re
post-Stranger Things world? What are you looking forward
to, I guess, for your career? – I’m doing a romantic comedy next, which is a big kind of risk for me. I think I’m very scared of comedy. I love to watch it, but
I’m scared to play it. The pace is different from drama. The world is different. I think it’s a really good
ego-stripping exercise, this next movie I’m
gonna be taking part in, to take the piss out of myself a bit, I think to not take myself so seriously, and really unburden
myself of that insecurity I think in a way is really important. I’ve been working on a podcast
for two and a half years which comes out next week. – Is that the spoken word? – Yeah, it’s really random, but very exciting and I
had all this big poetry that I compiled over the years and had all these amazing
musicians come together and compose scores and I narrate it. So that’s been really cathartic as well. I don’t mean too kind of meta about this, but it’s been a good
eye-opening experience too. And I think Stranger
Things has been fantastic because it’s opened up avenues, even just to use quite
a millennial example, like Instagram, to be able to access all these people around the world, like a plethora of different
artists, musicians. I don’t know the music world
other than being a fan. I don’t have any stake in that world, and to have these musicians
open up their hearts and kinda go, this is really random, this Australian guy’s
sending me this content and he wants me to
compose X, Y, and Z to it. But it’s been, people have
been really receptive, and I’m lucky about that
because there are a lot of, far more talented people
than me in the world who don’t get those kind of opportunities. – What was maybe a
challenging scene for you? Because it’s also pretty physical, even in just the first or second episode, I think is where you’re
getting sort of like dragged down those stairs
and into that basement. Was the physical stuff
challenging for you, and if not, what was? – I love the physical stuff. I love learning from the stunt guys. I think they’re incredibly
talented athletes, and they’re so particular about
where everything should be and the timing of everything. And I think it’s an art form in itself. I just saw John Wick
3, not to go off topic. It’s amazing.
– You’re fine. – So yeah, I’m a big fan of kind of really getting stuck
into that sort of stuff. There’s a scene in
episode four in the sauna, and it’s a hugely physical
and emotional scene halfway through the season. And I took all my prosthetics and my wig and everything off at the end of the week of shooting that scene. I was covered head to
toe in cuts and bruises, and I took all the skin
off on top of my toes. I mean, I just kind of invest
in it, it’s so much fun in a lot of ways. I just find new things to fall in love with about this every day. – Okay, well, speaking
of your prosthetics, we interviewed, one of my
co-workers interviewed Gaten, and he was saying that
it’s not fair, I think, that you had a hair piece. He had to grow his hair out naturally, and you got a head piece. – A lot of them have to live with it. Even when they leave set,
everyone’s living with it. It’s good I can put on
a hat and grow a beard, whereas you can see Joe
Keery from a mile away facing the other direction,
you know what I mean. – That’s true. What’s a favorite scene of yours? – The final scene between
Millie and I at the end, I really enjoyed. – [Natalie] How long did that take? – Three days, yeah. So much fun, huge set
component, huge CGI component. – And then what’s it like
when you step off the set at the end of that last? – I think you have to be able to strip it, you know what I mean. If you’ve got a partner to go
home to or friends or family, I feel like you can’t take
that kind of energy back. That’s what I mean by empathizing, finding empathy for the
character or similarities, so you can leave and kind of. I remember I had this super, kind of eccentric
drama teacher at university, and she used to say like,
pretend you’re washing water over your face, and I was
in school, I was like, that’s such drama, whatever. But then I get off set and I’m like, sitting in the car on the way home and I’m imagining the
water running down my head and it’s kinda nice, you know what I mean. Because you have such long days, I feel like that short time when you see your partner or whoever, you kind of bring it back. – We’ve all enjoyed watching you as Billy. You seem like a great,
super talented actor. – Thank you, appreciate it.
– Really excited to see where you go from here. Thank you so much for being here, and thank you guys all for watching.


  • SillyBri 920 says:

    Everyone is in love while poor Will just wants to play D and D😓

  • david abiona says:

    He looks like Jared Leto

  • Sarah Hendricks says:

    He speaks so beautifully and I love that he suggested ideas of his character to the Duff brothers and they took his idea of really humanizing Billy and showing his backstory and the reasons his character is the way he is. He really shined in this season and deserves all the praise. He has a bright future ahead of him.

  • Eirian T-B says:

    He’s Australian!?

  • K A says:

    Ohh yes, hes hot. Oh my, those eyes. Accent, yes please; Above all, he is so much more then his physical looks. His emotional and intellectual depth is what attracts me the most 😘🍁

  • Jussym says:

    Wow I loved this interview! Dacre seems like a very mature, smart, eloquent and talented young man!!! Kudos to the interviewer for the interesting questions too 👏. I would have been so intimidated by his deep stare and handsomeness to even being able to formulate a proper question 😂😂😂

  • Temrax says:

    she wants to fuck him

  • Tricia says:

    i feel like hes extremely talented and so mature. i really hope he gets to do so much more acting in the future because he has so much potential.

  • msmoon xo says:

    You can tell she’s nervous talking to him. His voice and his eye contact is so hot and intimidating (in a good way) that it makes you a dits 😂

  • Yeetus to the Fetus says:

    I want him to stare at me while eating a cookie

  • Fortnite Camper365 says:

    Wonder about season 4

  • Mr. Locke says:

    I bet they needed to wipe the chair down after she stood up

  • Jenna Gomes says:

    I literally just saw the thumbnail and clicked on the video-

  • Cameron Waller says:

    Interviewer: Billy’s arc
    Dacre: and end
    Me: no

  • CM Laki says:

    He's so great – I can't believe to listen to him in real life – that he's actually "Billy".

  • Frances Hughes says:

    I LOVE billy this many people want him to come back to life 😭❤️❤️😍

  • Alexandra Hegedus says:

    I hated Billy in the first half of season 2 because his sexism and racism, but then thank to Montgomery's genious play, something deeper started to show up… And then in season 3 this became a real emotional coaster! He really could the two character's emotions into one body, the Mindflayer's fear from El and anger, and Billy's struggling, you could even understand that Billy was a such a good target to the Mindflayer, because he already has so much anger and pain inside, that the Mindflayer can "ride". Also, as we learned from Game of Thrones, some characters just have to die, but those two sad dogs really have lots of things to learn from this show. Ok, maybe Theon died with the same honor as Billy… Despite of thinking that he deserves better, I was glad that he could make things up to Max. They both've been through kinda the same thing, and Billy knew this, he just couldn't help on his anger, and I think he even was a bit jealous seeing Max with her mom. I think that "sorry" was for this. To make it short, drama really fits to this guy, bravo!! But I hope he also can find his voice in this comedy.

  • Ba by says:

    it’s genuinely mesmerizing to watch this guy in interviews. he really has a lot of thought and meaning behind the things he says— and seemingly, just life in general. an incredibly intelligent man with an understanding and want-to-know-how mindset toward people and characters. he has easily made his way into my list of fave actors

  • Viktor Arnason says:

    I loved his car camaro

  • Alie Smith says:

    Why's he so good at eye contact tho

  • Mr. Gwapito says:

    I’m loving the fact that Stranger Things is making gray characters. First it is Steve and now it’s Billy.

  • Barb Donnelly says:

    A star is born…think we will be watching a lot of this gentleman on the big screens. He's got it all. Great work on Stranger Things!

  • Zoe Bluth says:

    I just wanted Billy to be happy

  • Zoe Bluth says:

    Dacre is so well spoken

  • Jimita Rita says:

    He is sooooooo cute

  • GlitzyGrace says:

    did anyone else love Billy the whole time 🤷🏼‍♀️💗

  • latenight cashews says:

    "then i fell in love with escapism"
    this explains why ive been finding him increasingly charming, i love dacre's way with words. definitely helps that his gaze is lethal and steals all air from your lungs.

  • PrinxeArthas StormBreakerz says:

    i think she is getting aroused.

  • Ada Costache says:

    k, I’m dead now

  • Mateo_ Cube says:

    Billy is still alive

  • jelly pickle says:

    i thought he was justen bieber when i saw him in stranger things for a second

  • Louise Muneka says:

    I mean there's still a billy in the upside down and the mind player basically killed himself

  • M D says:

    Dude was awesome

  • chloe smith says:


  • Most Def says:

    He is sexy as fuck.

  • Mae says:

    He's amazing.

  • zombieduck 06 says:

    Billy’s hot haHA (I’m so sorry)

  • Amelia says:

    oh my gosh, HIS EYES HIS EYE CONTACT he's so perfect if I would be the lady in the chair I would die

  • Joey Mama says:

    I never realized he was a southerner.

  • Gacha music Studio says:

    my crush😭😭💖💖😍😍

  • rina barbera says:

    how do you have someone's voice as your ringtone

  • Not Taikka says:

    Let Billy be gay, you cowards!

  • ChristianVS says:


  • T & H says:

    i love dacres acting

  • Sarah says:

    This is a fantastic interview, there was a lot of interesting questions! I definitely admire Dacre even more, the way he's listening intently, and giving thoughtful answers is awesome. Kudos to the interviewer, as well!
    If it was me I'd probably be flustered with so much eye contact, feels like he's staring in to your soul. 😂

  • Melissa and Kaylee says:

    2:08 stare into my soul why don’t you

  • fangirl videooz says:

    am i the only person who fell in love with billy in season 2, despite his asshole tendencies and now that he’s a major thing i’m thankful people finally are giving him the recognition he deserves

  • Debra Roo says:

    Dacre looks a little like Zac Efron…💖

  • Samuel says:

    I fucking love Dacre, he seems like such a genuine person.

  • Augusto Borsatto says:

    Best series is stranger things

  • Crystal Cartwright no d no BJ d LP sno says:

    Dacre Hey Billy Stanger Things 4

  • dusty socks says:

    Being that close to him I would die and have a heart attack

  • Piper R says:

    I could listen to him talk all day

  • Chirag Garg says:

    He needs to get more work is any body in hollywood listening plzz don’t let this talent get wasted.

  • Sherlon Gerard says:

    He would make a GREAT DC villain . Joker- Jason Todd. Man Australia keeps churning out fantastic actors and actresses

  • Holly Avila says:

    Great performance by a very wise young man.

  • Jose Straubgameingchannel says:

    Thank god he’s a good talker cuz she is soooo boring

  • Obunch of Olives says:

    Billy made me cry harder than hopper did

  • Obunch of Olives says:

    I cried for 2 hours straight and my mom ran into my room because she thought I was getting killed😂😂😂😂 why do you guys do this to me..?

  • Shruthi Chandrasekharan says:

    Is it just me or this whole interview between them is kind of tense?!?

  • Omar Valderama says:

    I like him as an actor his great awesome 😎 but man he looks hard t speak to his like strict when he being interviewed 😮

  • Brepop unicorn says:

    Help I can’t stop thinking about him and watching him

  • Wackomashh 2 says:

    I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing billy.

  • pineabelle says:

    What a humble genius…

  • Ihasbloom 360 says:

    6:51 the damn bug!! It killed the mood of the clip 😂🙅‍♀️😭😭

  • Bri E says:

    I'm OLDER than this beautiful man??? I'm shook

  • Mar Swiftsmith says:

    everyone in the comments: don't be sad because it's over, be happy because it happened

  • D4ISY W4LSH says:

    In a way i.think billys death is mike's mum's fault because then he wouldn't have crashed meaning he wouldn't have encountered the big thing

  • Gang Star says:

    I love billy with long hair

  • Mor Gan says:

    Honestly I knew Billy would end up being the good guy in some way, but of course he had to die at the very end ):

  • Stoneryoda 937 says:

    Billy ROCKED this season the scenes with Eleven blew me away also the crazy creepily friendly in a certain scene

  • Noel Cromer says:

    2:02 bro wtf his eyes are so intimidating like I swear I wouldn’t be able to talk i would just sit there like he is literally looking into her soul

  • Neal Small says:

    Season 4 is gonna suck without Billy 😔

  • Eve Patey says:

    Imagine he did a ASMR

  • CatharticCreation says:

    I don't even care that he's balding and looks 35. He is fucking HAWT.

  • Gacha Girl900 says:

    i’m sorry is he aussie?! 😍😍

  • harry.x hook says:

    billy might be alive i have 2 theories;
    1.he is in the upside down
    2.he is in the russian prison


    I never hated billy. I always knew he went through Stuff plus we’ve seen much worst bullies in tv and he wasn’t one of em. I’m so glad they made his character more than just a hot bully even tho I knew he was more than that since he stepped in Hawkins


    Billie and el is one of the strongest character in ST

  • Olivia Williamson says:

    I think it would have been cool to have seen him join the gang if he would have survived, it would have made an interesting shift in Billy and Max’s relationship. They most definitely could have done something but it’s also the casualty of this type of threat. I would have been really interesting to get to know more about billy but I loved this season too.

  • mari says:

    how the actual fuck is she keeping her cool?

  • BlueMoons says:

    Didn’t the “Billy” who died was the evil billy who only had his mother’s memory? Hopper and Billy are both now in the “unconfirmed death pile”

  • vVv shaggy says:

    Bruh he was saying some really intellectual shit that I didn’t even understand.

  • Annoying - says:

    am i the only who's thinking that hes looking like zac efron???

  • xXprodudex12 says:

    Billy whyndidm7 cut ur hair thei were cool whe they were long but still u look cool

  • thalia quintero says:

    this girl on tiktok ttbret SHE yes a SHE look exactly like him follow her look at her postit amazing

  • Eliana Graham says:

    Honestly i felt so bad for billy's death in s3. The writers, actor and directors did a great job of making us fall in love with him this season. In billy's mind, the only way for people not to hurt by leaving him (like his mom) or abusing him (like his dad) was to get them scared and intimidated of him, therefore he wouldnt feel that pain because he was the one giving it. But what really gets me is that little by little they peel back his layers and show us his past… Which is very dark. he actually does care for max and has a heart, and even saved eleven's life. Billy was a sick pyschopath and i know that the past isnt always an excuse, but he really had no one-no real friends, mom or even a good dad. Billy also was very abusive to max bc he had that example his whole life and alot of anger built up. I felt that if billy was to get older he would've matured greatly, learn from his fathers mistakes and would've been a great person. #justiceforbilly

  • Eliana Graham says:

    I dont think ive ever felt the way i did while watching dacre perform this season. he has this way where no matter what, ur so interested and invested in whats happening. i love how nobody saw his heroism coming and how his last scene was put together so beautifully too. I feel so bad for max she looses billy, and then el. i feel like with alexeis death many people didnt realize how amazing and heartbreaking billy was.

  • ateCheca says:

    Holy shit, he is so eloquent! God and his accent is so hot. I hated his guts, but the character development was awesome! RiP Billy 💖

  • RnG_ TaNk3oY says:

    He really has no clue how bad we want him bck

  • Aryan Ujjainwal says:

    Very lovely and calm interview, Soothing Interviewier.

  • AJ Aspect says:

    Did anyone think about if there’s a way that billy is still alive.
    Well this is my theory, in season 3 episode 2 when billy is brought to these people that come from the shadows. Remember that there was another billy that was already evil. What if billy was taken to the upside down and the evil billy was released and killed in the end. Like this if you think it’s true and sub to my channel.

  • HAAHhaHHAhaha I don't remember says:

    I literally searched for daddy Montgomery instead of Dacre, wtf

  • anthony de dios says:

    Dacre was really the only saving grace in a mediocre season

  • Sliver The Viper says:

    Barb, Bob, Billy, Im Starting To See A Pattern

  • Eunice Velimirov says:

    He has a horrible father that's why his the way that he is…I hated him until I saw how his dad treats him and then that changed

  • Eunice Velimirov says:

    He looks a bit like Jared Leto

  • Wavyy Based says:

    This guy is a phenomenal actor..

  • CyeOutsider says:

    Billy was so hateable in Season 2 – just an a-hole.

    It's amazing to see that Dacre was so intelligent and thoughtful about playing him. Brilliant acting.

  • Jake Maddox says:

    I was so sad with what happened with Billy in season 3.

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