Dacre Montgomery and Cary Elwes “Stranger Things 3” Interview

Noah Schnapp, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Sadie Sink, Caleb McLaughlin

Stranger Things Season 3, Dacre Montgomery and Cary Elwes, Talk 4th of July 🇺🇸, Mullet Hairstyle, Lifeguarding, Sleazy Politicians, Dark Themes and More!

The 4th of July is traditionally celebrated with apple pie, BBQ’s and fireworks, along with a blockbuster summer movie; “Stranger Things” fans will no doubt be glued to the small screen July 4, as they’ve been anxiously awaiting the return of season 3 of the hit Netflix series. It’s been a year and a half since season 2, and fans are eager to get back to the 1985 setting of Hawkins, Indiana where all kinds of ‘strange things’ happen. Of course, the plot is under wraps, and there will be no spoilers here, what we do know is the mayor of Hawkins, Cary Elwes (“Mayor Larry Klein”) will finally make an appearance. He along with Dacre Montgomery (“Billy Hargrove”) chatted with me this past week (June 24).

Cary Elwes (“Mayor Larry Klein”) and Dacre Montgomery (“Billy Hargrove”) “Stranger Things” Season 3. Peninsula Hotel Chicago, June 24, 2019

Sarah Knight Adamson: The short little trailer, “Summer in Hawkins,” with the pool moms, who are primping for your lifeguarding shift. What a riot. It is just so funny, and I can identify with the lifeguarding job, because I was a lifeguard in high school and college at my “community pool.” I was wondering, do you find it enjoyable to play a lifeguard on “Stranger Things.”

Dacre Montgomery (“Billy Hargrove”) Netflix Stranger Things.

Dacre Montgomery: Totally, it was nice to have that different dynamic, I guess, this season and be out at the pool and in the sun, and there were so many people around. And even the ‘whistle’ and just sitting up on my lifeguard stand and finding different things to do with different props and kind of get into that world. Yeah, it was really fun.

Dacre Montgomery (“Billy Hargrove”) Stranger Things, Season 3. Netflix

SKA: Sure, and of course, when you were blowing that whistle, that’s the number one rule, ‘there’s no running at the pool!’ I couldn’t wait to talk to you about the 80s mullet hairstyle, as it has so many other names. Here’s one I found, which I thought was hysterical. It’s an acronym, B-I-F-R-I-B, Business In the Front Rocking In the Back.

DM: Oh, nice. I was totally rocking in the back this season, a lot longer and flowy and just fully embodied

SKA: What would you like to say about that haircut, and have any of your fans suggested some different nicknames for that mullet?

Dacre Montgomery (“Billy Hargrove”) Australian fans have named is Mullet hair style “Carl.”

DM: Well, firstly, I love the mullet. I feel like it’s like putting on my character. It’s part of the costume every day of the week. And yeah, as I said, it’s longer this season and wavier. Any nicknames for the mullet I haven’t had, but I was doing press in Australia the other day, and they asked me to name it. And the only thing I could think of on the spot was quite an Australian name, which is Carl. So, it’s been called Carl, apparently. I know it’s kind of random.

SKA: No, that’s okay. Let’s call it Carl.

DM: Well, it’s just a lot of fun. It really is.

SKA: Your character is quite the bully in season two. How is that going to change for us in season three?

DM: I think he gets a lot darker. There’s a really rewarding payoff at the end though that I think everyone will love. But it definitely gets a lot darker before it gets better. The story arc this season was so much fun for me to play, so dynamic and interesting, and so many amazing, unpredictable turns and twists in the course of the story, but especially with my character, at least what I can connect with.

Stranger Things-Cary Elwes (“Mayor Larry Klein”) Netflix

SKA: Well, that’s fantastic. I mean, you’re a main character now, obviously. Congratulations on that. Cary, hi you’re from London?

CE: I am, but I live in Los Angeles.

SKA: So, it looks like we’re finally going to get to meet the mayor of Hawkins. Can you talk about your character, please?

CE: He’s a very self-centered politician. He’s kind of sleazy, a lot of ego, a very healthy ego. He’s more interested in his constituents’ votes more than he cares about the community as a whole, which makes him an excellent foil for Harper, who as we know, deeply cares about the community.

SKA: Oh, yes. So, how about that Fourth of July celebration? 

CE: He’s so focused on that. He believes that winning over votes from the people of Hawkins is to throw them parties. So, he’s one of those politicians that spends public funds on things that are frivolous rather than important. Yeah, he’s very focused on creating his own Fourth of July party, which of course has his name on it and all of that.

SKA: Oh yeah. Of course. Yes, not to be confused with anyone else, correct?

CE: No. (laughing)

The Duffers on set. Stranger Things Season 3 Netflix

SKA: There’s a new mall in town? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

CE:  Yeah, the Duffers, [twin brother directors, writers Matt and Ross Duffer, professionally known as ‘the Duffers’] attention to detail is phenomenal. They took over an abandoned mall in Atlanta, and they dressed 40 stores and made them all operational. There are working doors; every prop in it was for real. There was nothing fake, even a real working movie theater, and so there were areas of the mall that you’ll never see on the show, but the Duffers were so intent on creating an atmosphere and a working mall that felt real for all the cast and extras that I spent most of the day wandering around taking pictures of everything because I was just so blown away that they made that effort.

SKA: Yes, that’s incredible. And honestly, we still have those malls, but they looked different back then, didn’t they? 

CE: Well, it was a fun time. The mall-going experience, for me, when I first got to the States, we didn’t have malls in England. And so the idea of a mall being a social gathering place that was a place where you could buy goods but also hangout and meet friends and go to movies and so on. It’s a unique phenomenon that is now a worldwide thing. You can go to different countries now and find more that are basically replicated from the American mall and they’ve taken it to a new level. Now what’s sad is that we’re seeing, because of online shopping, we’re seeing the death of the American mall. And so I’d like to think that hopefully that with this show we might generate some more interest in it. I’ve heard that it’s possible Netflix might be turning that exact mall into a theme park.

SKA: Oh, wouldn’t that be cool? So, Dacre, I read that you and your girlfriend like to go to the movies on Thursday. What do you usually see?

DM: Well, we just see whatever is coming out that week of the two or three movies that are being released. We go almost as if it’s opening night.

SKA: Oh, that’s great because I don’t think a lot of America’s have picked up on that yet. I don’t know about you, but my movie theaters aren’t that crowded on Thursday night. So, what did you enjoy, about playing the Red Ranger in the ‘Power Ranger’ movies? I mean, those are so popular, I found, there were over 30 different actors that played the Red Ranger. I had no idea, and you rank in the top five. Congratulations. That’s pretty cool. What did you enjoy about playing that character?

DM: Oh, it was so incredible to be a part of it, just the budget and the scale,   and that was my first job, so just learning about it. I think the main thing was just learning, learning how to act opposite things that weren’t there, that were all special effects. It was so rewarding, and I was so close to the cast and such a valuable experience coming out of drama school.

SKA: I had read that you have a daughter, Cary, here’s my question, I don’t know how old she is, but I was wondering at what age you might let her watch “Stranger Things?”

CE: We’ve been discussing that, my wife and I, and we think she’s just about the right age now; she’s 12. We brought her down to the set to watch the shoot to help any anxiety she might have had so that she can see how it’s pretend. But she’s still a very sensitive little thing, so we’ll see. The Duffers have been encouraging us to do it, so we’ll see.

SKA:  Cary, you and Winona Ryder have worked together before in a movie. Would you like to talk about that?

CE: Yeah, it was nice to reconnect with her. We haven’t worked together since “Bram Stoker’s Dracula,” which was in 1990. It came out in ’91. That was a fun shoot. It was a lot of work, but it was great fun to be working with Francis Coppola of course. We shot most of it on the Sony lot. Francis wanted to keep the whole special effects in house. There was no CGI, nothing like that. It was an experiment, really, and it turned out, I think, pretty well.

SKA: Oh yes, I would agree. I’m a fan of that film. Here’s a question for both of you. I read that the Duffers allow you to improvise. Could you please tell me a little bit about that and how that plays out on set?

DM: I think it just opens up the sounding board for all of the actors and artists to be heard, and I think that’s why it works so well is because it’s so fluid and creative in that respect. And they totally do encourage people to give their opinion or bring ideas, and they are actually are really good about incorporating those ideas into the shoots and subsequently into the final product.

SKA: That is fantastic. I’ve interviewed many directors and actors, and I know that’s not the style of every director. What do you personally appreciate about that?

DM: It just opens up the world, this creativity, and Netflix is so good that they give everyone the space to do that. I think that’s what’s unique about them as well.

SKA: Would you prefer just to read your lines or to improvise?

CE: There are some directors who just like actors to show up and just do the lines and read. But it’s actually more fun for an actor because most actors, the good ones I can think of, show up with a lot of homework and wanting to share that with the filmmakers. And the filmmakers are open to hearing it. They may not necessarily act on it. They certainly are listening to it, and if there’s a good idea, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, whether it’s from a crewmember or an actor or anything. If it’s good enough in the show, those are the filmmakers who are much more open to it. 

SKA: Oh, that’s fantastic. Thank you for that. How do you see the characters changing in season three? And that’s for either of you.

DM: They’re coming of age,” You know that the kids are. Especially, it’s more evident with the kids because they’re no longer kids anymore. It’s an interesting dynamic, as we all know, growing up, you know?

SKA: What you’re looking forward to most in season three?

DM: I’ve been written an amazing story arc for Billy, and I’m excited for people to see that, definitely. And just as a whole, I think this season has so much great comedy as well as its darkness, and I’m excited for people to experience that roller coaster.

Sarah Knight Adamson© July 1, 2019