Most recent college graduates would love to land an entry-level job fresh out of school. For 22-year-old, Australian-born actor Dacre Montgomery, that “entry-level” job came in the form of a leading role as Jason, the Red Ranger for a revamped Power Rangers franchise; then landing a coveted spot in the second season of Stanger Things, as bad-boy Billy.
At least someone had a great 2016.
“I’ve been fortunate, it’s been a really busy year,“ Montgomery says with a laugh. “I’ve been able to watch everything steadily incline, which is nice; it didn’t all necessarily happen at once.”
Raised with a unique perspective of film – both his parents were heavily involved in the industry – Montgomery developed distinct sense of appreciation for the art, specifically the complex, behind-the-scenes process of actualizing fiction.
“Growing up I fell in love with going onto set and watching people that could create these stories and completely lose me,” he says, recalling childhood days of accompanying mum or dad to work.
Now it’s his job to lose us, and he’ll begin by donning the colorful armor of a childhood classic -- suiting up as Jason the Red Ranger for the Power Rangers movie set to be released in March.
“The Power Rangers stuff came up in sort of a crazy way,“ he explains.
In fact, it took only four days to dramatically alter his life as he was unexpectedly thrust into the leading role of an iconic film with a rabid fan base and $150 million dollar budget.
It began on a Friday, during his final show at the acclaimed Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts; he received an email from his agent.
“Can you tape for Power Rangers?” it read.
“I got up the next morning expecting to put down a tape and there was a bunch of missed calls,” he remembers. He was headed to Los Angeles, more than 9,000 miles away, by that evening. . “I got on a plane, traded my ticket for two economy class seats, took my mum and we landed in Los Angeles Saturday evening. We checked in on Sunday, and then they rang and said you have the role on Monday. It was like a crazy four-day turnaround.”
The next six months became trial by fire, dropping the freshly minted 21-year-old into the rigorous grind of a Hollywood action star.
“We began training six days per week, three hours per day. It was a combination of martial arts, some yoga, the gym, and swimming. he says. “Then we started pre-production in February and shot through until the end of June.”
Though he may not have been a Power Ranger fan in the traditional sense (he missed it’s prime by a few years, #millenialstruggles) he’s always been a fan of the hero’s tale, and hopes to bring his own adaptation it is to the big screen.
“The connection I had to the show was all about superheroes,” he explains. “Not just DC and Marvel, but heroes in real life, the people that you surround yourself with and look up to, and I think for me I said ‘here is an idea that is already established and already has a fan base. How can I embody this character that’s going to do justice to those kids growing up, do justice to myself, and do justice to the project that we’re going into and how it is different from the original show.”
He says that the film crew gave the cast room to play around and adapt it as their own, explaining that during the filming process Power Rangers became a sort of metaphor for how the cast’s relationships grew with the film. It is what he believes will set the movie apart, venturing deeper than some catchphrases and special effects.
Then, just as quickly as it had all come, it was over – if you don’t count the endless hours touring at various promotional events for the movie, a different grind all together.
But not long after wrapping up his first blockbuster film, he earned another big break, landing the highly sought after role of Billy in the second season of Netflix’s breakout series Stranger Things.
Montgomery was already a huge fan of season one and eager for an opportunity to show he was the best man for the role, though he admits he knew little about what exactly that role was.
“They said there was a role and it was a young guy, an antagonist, people didn’t know a lot about him,” he recalls with excitement. “I was like, ‘Holy Shit, this is the dream show.’”
It may have not been much information, but Montgomery did the most with it.
“I kind of freaked out,” he says. But It was for the best, because he threw everything he had at them. “I turned the few things they gave us into a short film, and I did a score. I had opening titles and I improvised a lot of stuff; I got down to my underpants and danced to 80s’ music. I just did all this crazy stuff and sent it off.”
It only took hours for him to receive a response. Within one day it went from a video audition to an official offer.
The cast is currently scheduled to continue shooting through the end of April, but he did give a few insights into what we can expect from the mysterious new addition to season two, and he really wants to get one thing straight..
“He’s more than just a dick,” he emphasizes, referring to the role Billy will play in season two. “What I was told is that they wanted to eventually steer away from the perception that he’s just the bad boy, the guy who rolls into town and is a bit of a dick, and more toward being the antagonist of the second season. In a sense you’re looking at a character that’s a lot like Jack Nicholson in The Shining.”
So naturally, Montgomery went on a “Jack Nicholson binge” to prepare.
“I already loved Jack Nicholson, but just watching him on screen and through the various movies . . . just how on edge he is and how on edge he puts the viewer, I tried driving some of that into Billy. For me I’m just building from that foundation of there’s more too it than him just being a, you know... a dick.”
The contrasting roles he is shifting between as the Red Ranger and Billy are not lost on him either, as Hollywood welcomes him as a hero and villain (sorry… antagonist). and it is definitely a perfect way to demonstrate versatility early on in his career.
“Totally opposite,” he explains, acknowledging it was a goal of his to showcase that versatility early on, targeting a role that could show a different side of him and with more depth than what Power Rangers can ultimately provide. “I can’t say anything specific, but in terms of the way that Billy looks, you know, the makeup and everything -- aesthetically I’m also completely different. Not just what I wear, but everything.”
He specifically points to episodes three and four of the upcoming season as particularly intriguing. They are currently scheduled to be shot in February and directed by Shawn Levy.
“[Shawn] brings a totally different energy, which I’m really excited about because what happens with Billy in three and four requires a different energy,” he says. It’s going to be great.”
After a hectic 2016, Montgomery is currently catching his breathe in between shoots, but big plans remain, and they’re not limited to film.
“Interior design and food,” he says, regarding his other interests – though he stresses he cannot envision a world where he wasn’t somehow involved with film. “My sort of five-to-ten year plan is to get into the interior design business and start my own company. I’d get a big warehouse space and split half of it to be an apartment for my home and the other half would be a restaurant.”
Though it may seem a far way off, he’s becoming accustomed to reaching his goals. And with the way things have been going lately, we wouldn’t bet against him.
“When I was 11-years-old my mum and me put together a 10-year plan,” he says. “I pretty much achieved everything that I put on that, so we’ll see how the next 10 years go.”
See Dacre's full spread in Rogue's Issue #5!
Photography by Jonny Marlow
Styling by Manuel Parra
Grooming by Afton Williams
Written by Blake Pinto