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Dacre Montgomery On His Surreal, Post-‘Stranger Things’ Life

Culture
Photo by Austin Hargrave / Netflix

“It’s been crazy, dude”

If you’re the owner of a Netflix account, then chances that you’ve recently been introduced to the talents of Australian actor Dacre Montgomery. The 22-year-old Perth native, who earlier this year starred as one of the masked heroes in Power Rangers, has been enjoying a breakout month thanks to his role on Stranger Things 2 as Billy, the hard-bodied bully that everyone loves to hate. Billy, who gets off on making his stepsister Max’s life a living hell, has divided fans thanks to an unhinged performance that has also earned Montgomery legions of admirers. Stranger Things creators, the Duffer brothers, got a preview of what Montgomery had in mind for the role when they watched his taped audition, a very important document that has recently gone viral online—and for good reason. We spoke to Montgomery recently about what it’s been like landing a role that changes your life overnight.

Did you feel a lot of pressure once you got this part, knowing that so many people would be watching? 
Yeah, but I think there’s also an opportunity to really try and put some chutzpah into a role, make it something really special. If anything, it adds even more incentive to put a character in place in a world that already exists. I don’t think I felt pressure. I felt more of an opportunity.

After you were cast, how soon did the realization come that this was going to be a life-changing role?
It just echoes back to what I said before. I saw an opportunity, I was given a chance, I tried to make the most of that chance, and now, hopefully, I have opportunities to be involved in a lot more amazing stories, which is why I got involved with this in the first place. I’m very interested in storytelling and exploring, and hopefully, this gives me the outlet to be able to do that for many years to come. 

Is playing an unpredictable and darker character like Billy more fun than playing the kind of traditional hero you played in Power Rangers?
Yeah, playing someone with such uncertain tendencies, you never know what’s next or what’s around the corner, but what was also interesting was finding the similarities between a protagonist in something like Power Rangers and an antagonist in this. What do these two kids who are in high school have in common? What is the hero, what is the villain, what is their connection? What are their insecurities? 

This character was a lot of fun. There was a lot of room to play on set with the Duffers, coming up with ideas on the day, changing lines, stuff like that.

Did you have a lot of input on the character we see onscreen? 
I think it inevitably changes when you hire an actor—they bring their own element into it. I’d say it’s 60/40—60 percent being on the Duffer side and 40 percent on mine. On the day, we’d change things because the narrative constantly changes. We’re shooting episode five, and the Duffers haven’t written seven, eight, and nine, so there are discussions that are had. That’s what’s so great about the two brothers: They are in an open forum with their actors, which provides everybody with an opportunity to evolve the character over a season rather than it being predetermined. 

Did you see Billy as a purely dark character, or were you able to find a lighthearted element to him? 
I think there’s something far more sinister going on, which you get a taste at the end of episode nine. In episode eight, we were actually humanizing the villain. So when we were on four, five, and six, I said to the Duffers, “Look, guys, this character’s just an angry dude, but what’s behind it?” The biggest thing to me in creating an anti-hero—somebody that people can like and hate at the same time—is to humanize this person. But I think there is something far more sinister going on that will hopefully evolve in further seasons. 

Can we talk about your hair? I assume that’s a wig
Yeah, the sides of the hair are the wig, the hair on top is mine. Sarah did a great job, she’s head of the hair department. There is that comical side with the tight jeans and the earring, too. Again, it was sort of 60/40; with the hair and makeup and costume department, I had a say in that. I was very lucky there. 

Do you people recognize you on the street without the wig?
It’s been crazy, dude. I thought when Power Rangers came out, it was going to be hectic, but in the last two weeks, I’ve been back in Perth, Australia, which is where I live when I’m not working. 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, I think it was a bar or something. I think people just recognize the face shape, and anybody that we watch onscreen, I think, subconsciously, you kind of recognize their features and their gait, how they walk, everything. But I’ve got ways to hide myself now. I’m right in the middle of Sydney right now, in the middle of a square surrounded by hundreds of people, and I have my disguise sorted, which shall remain anonymous.

What happened to your social media after the show dropped on Netflix? Did it blow up?
Yeah, dude, it’s been like 800,000 people in like 12 days. It’s been crazy. You know on Instagram, how you can see Insights? It’s like gender impressions, all these things. So before it was like 50 percent men, 50 percent women, between the ages of 18 and 35. And I’ve tracked, now it’s like 75 percent women and the rest are dudes. I think in the first week, I got 30,000 messages and most of them from girls. I think also just capitalizing on this moment with a charity I work with, I’ve been uploading videos that get half a million views. The guys that run it, they rang me and said they had 10,000 donors in the first 24 hours after I posted that. I think we live in this interesting point where if you know how to and you’re interested in capitalizing on social media for good and for brand building, there’s so much potential. So I’ve just been underground, at my place in Perth the last two weeks just figuring out all kinds of different ways that I can use this to benefit me and people around me. 

Your audition tape for Stranger Things leaked online and went viral. What was your reaction to that? 
I wanted to take a shot in the dark when I sent it a year ago. There were just so many people auditioning for this that I was like, “I better do something out of the box.” Netflix loved it, and it’s kind of been an inside joke between the Duffers. So GQ kind of tactfully leaked it, and it’s had like two million views on Facebook and three million on other platforms. I was out at the bar the other day, and this guy comes up to me—not from Power Rangers, not from Stranger Things—and he goes, “Hey, are you that guy from that audition tape?”

What were your expectations with Power Rangers, and did you see its reception as a disappointment at all?
Look, I had an amazing time working on it. My castmates have gone on to do amazing things, it was my very first project, and I learned a lot about myself and stunt training and all kinds of stuff. We opened with Beauty and the Beast, and that was the highest grossing PG-13 film domestically ever, I think. So timing-wise, I think we had a good opening weekend, and we trickled down domestically and didn’t do great overseas. I’m very lucky that I went straight on to ST2. I’m just looking for that next story, to be honest with you, mate. I’m reading scripts now, and I haven’t taped for anything in four months. I’m not taping for stuff that I don’t really care about. I’m writing, I’m teaching myself writing. I got Final Draft [screenwriting software] about 16 months ago, and I’m learning about story structure, creating narratives, how to sell a script. I’m trying to learn the business side of things and trying to be creative even though I’m not auditioning. I’m looking for the thing that is different from the antagonist in Stranger Things, different from the protagonist in Power Rangers, and something that will really continue these two amazing opportunities I’ve been given.

Have you been tracking the vocal reaction to your character online Is that something you pay attention to?
Totally. I read everything, mate. I don’t like having a huge response because I don’t want to be involved in a discussion about it, necessarily, but I’m extremely interested in how people see the character. I’m overwhelmingly excited about the response—I feel like it’s been mostly positive and people are liking who Billy is and are really hypothesizing about where he’s going to go. I get a lot of good laughs with my mates about the mullet, and about apparently, being Zac Efron’s father from the ‘80s, which is a fan theory that’s been going around. 

Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images

"In my head I thought, This is how it ends"

Kit Harington almost lost a lot more than the Iron Throne while filming the final season of Game of Thrones. According to an interview with NowThis News, the actor almost lost one of his balls while riding a mechanical dragon.

Harington revealed that the incident took place when he was filming the scene where his character, Jon Snow, takes a ride on Rhaegal for the first time in the Season 8 premiere. Since dragons aren't real (sorry), Harington was filming the scene, where Jon almost falls off the dragon and then swings around to pick himself back up, on a mechanical contraption.

"My right ball got trapped, and I didn't have time to say, 'Stop,'" Harington said in an interview. "And I was being swung around. In my head I thought, This is how it ends. On this buck, swinging me around by my testicles, literally." We see shots of the fake dragon he's riding in front of a green screen, and it does look pretty terrifying.

Luckily, his testicles remained intact through the near-disastrous event, and he's survived with quite the story to tell to unsuspecting journalists.

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FROM THE WORLD WIDE WEB
Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for goop

"I had to create a harder shell about being a woman"

In a panel discussion during Gwyneth Paltrow's In Goop Health summit, actress Jessica Alba revealed that she "stopped eating" to avoid unwanted attention from men when she was first starting her career in Hollywood.

According to People, Alba said that she "had a curvy figure as a young girl" and, as such, was made to feel as though her body was the reason that men may be inappropriate toward her. "I was meant to feel ashamed if I tempted men," Alba said during the panel discussion. "Then I stopped eating a lot when I became an actress. I made myself look more like a boy so I wouldn't get as much attention. I went through a big tomboy phase."

She continued, "In Hollywood, you're really preyed upon. They see a young girl, and they just want to touch you inappropriately or talk to you inappropriately or think that they're allowed to be aggressive with you in a way."

Alba also noted that she was raised in a conservative household. "My mom would say, 'You have a body, and it's very womanly, and people don't understand that you're 12,'" she said. "I wasn't allowed to have my nalgas out, which is butt cheeks [in Spanish], but I was born with a giant booty, and they come out of everything. So, I didn't get to wear normal things that all my friends wore."

She said that these reactions to her body really affected her attitude. "I created this pretty insane 'don't fuck with me' [attitude]," she said. "I had to create a harder shell about being a woman."

According to her, her relationship to her body only changed when her first child, Honor, was born in 2008. "[After she was born,] I was like, Oh this is what these boobies are meant to do! Feed a kid!" she said. "And that was the dopest shit I'd ever done. So, I came into my body as a woman finally and I stopped being ashamed of myself."

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Photo courtesy of Teva

Because of course

Teva, the most obvious lesbian footwear brand since Birkenstock, really knows its customer base. In time for Pride, the brand has teamed up with Tegan and Sara for a gay shoe to end all gay shoes. In other words, your Pride footwear is on lock.

The shoe isn't just your average Teva sandal. Tegan and Sara's design, the Teva Flatform Universal Pride sandal, is a 2.5-inch platform shoe with a rainbow sole. Tegan and Sara noted in a press release that they have been Teva wearers for pretty much their whole lives. "We got our first pair of Teva sandals when we were 16," they said. "This rainbow Flatform collab is like full circle LGBTQ+ Pride validation."

What's better, with each sandal sale, Teva will donate $15 to the Tegan and Sara Foundation, up to $30,000. The funds donated will go toward scholarships which will give young members of the LGBTQ+ community the chance to go to summer camps which will "help develop self-confidence and leadership abilities in a safe and nurturing environment." Tegan and Sara added, "Teva's generous support for our foundation will allow us to help even more LGBTQ+ youth."

Available today at Teva's and Nordstrom's websites, the sandal retails for $80.

Photo courtesy of Teva

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Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

"Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design"

Prada Group has announced that Prada, as well as all of its brands, will now be fur-free. According to a press release from the Humane Society, Prada, Miu Miu, Church's, and Car Shoe will ban the use of fur beginning with the Spring/Summer 2020 collection (aka the Fashion Week coming up next). The list of fashion designers banning fur only continues to grow, with 3.1 Phillip Lim, Coach, Armani, Versace, Gucci, and more having stopped using the material in seasons past.

"The Prada Group is committed to innovation and social responsibility, and our fur-free policy—reached following a positive dialogue with the Fur Free Alliance, in particular with LAV and the Humane Society of the United States—is an extension of that engagement," Miuccia Prada told the Human Society. "Focusing on innovative materials will allow the company to explore new boundaries of creative design while meeting the demand for ethical products."

Following London Fashion Week designers forgoing the use of fur in September and the first-ever Vegan Fashion Week taking place in February, it's easy to imagine an entirely fur-free fashion future. It's especially easy, I presume, for the brands to consider a fur-free future, given that entire cities and states are taking a stance. New York is following in the footsteps of Los Angeles banning fur, with a bill proposed this March that would ban sales across New York State.

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Photo by Johnny Dufort

"Club leisure" is the new athleisure

Alexander Wang is recognizing clubbing as the workout that it truly is with his latest Adidas collaboration. In this fifth installment, he "changes gears," per a press release from the brand, taking the iconic sports brand to the dance floor.

For the new campaign, the collection comes to life in iconic choreographer Tanisha Scott's dance studio and stars dancers Noemi Janumala, Dakota Moore, Avi McClish, and Olivia Burgess. The dancers show just how far these clothes can go when you want to bust a move or stretch, but TBH, I'll leave these poses to the pros and just use my clothes for flexing on the 'gram.

The collection—which features six apparel items, three shoes, and six accessories—features, per a press release, "Wang's knack for pre-styling." Standouts from the mostly black-and-white items include a silver sneaker that was *made* for moonwalking, an airy windbreaker that has just the right dash of bright blue with the scattered Adidas trefoil design, and a towel hoodie that you won't feel bad sweating in.

Ahead of the May 25 collection drop online and in stores, peep the gorgeous campaign images below.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Joggers, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Towel Hoodie, $350, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Sock Leggings, $60, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Adilette Slides, $90, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Futureshell Shoes in Platinum Metallic, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Core White, $280, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Shorts in Core White, $120, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

Photo by Johnny Dufort

Adidas Originals by AW, Sweatshirt in Black, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Bum Bag, $50, available staring May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Towel, $80, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Turnout BBall Shoes, $250, available starting May 25 at Adidas; Adidas Originals by AW, Duffle Bag, $70, available starting May 25 at Adidas.

NYLON uses affiliate links and may earn a commission if you purchase something through those links, but every product chosen is selected independently.


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