Stranger Things star Dacre Montgomery has revealed that he was asked to leave the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts three times.
In an interview with fellow actor Austin Butler, who is set to star as the King in the upcoming Elvis Presley biopic, the 25-year-old said he struggled through his first year at the drama school.
The Mount Lawley Senior High School graduate said growing up he was “fascinated” by the academy, where his mum had studied broadcasting and his dad had lectured in the sound department.
“My high school was on the same campus, so every day I had to walk through this renowned drama school. (But) I think there are a lot of ups and downs about drama school,” he said.
“The first year, I got asked to leave the course three times.
“I had spent so long manifesting this idea that I wanted to go to drama school, and once I was there, I was maybe a little bit arrogant. I didn’t want to learn Feldenkrais, I didn’t want to learn these multiple vocal techniques. There was a lot of stuff going on in my life: I got fired from my job, my girlfriend and I went on a break — all this stuff happened at the end of first year.
“The staff said, ‘Look, if you want to come back here after the summer, you’ve got to think long and hard about what you’re capable of.’ So I thought long and hard, and I came back, and we had our first public plays, and it was amazing.”
After returning, Montgomery took roles in productions from The Grapes of Wrath and Measure for Measure, before booking his first professional role on his 21st birthday, two weeks before finishing at WAAPA.
While his run as Billy Hargrove on Stranger Things has now ended after the death of his character last season, he will next be seen in the movie The Broken Hearts Gallery alongside fellow Aussie actor Geraldine Viswanathan (Bad Education).
“I think to be part of something culturally so massive was great, because the antithesis to that was there was no pressure ever,” he said.
“I had the best time ever, and I’m going to miss all the people — but the experience, I put to bed that night. Part of life is learning to continue to grow and evolve. When I was a kid, I was so scared of doing that. This was a nice moment because I felt like it did come to an end. I was excited for the future, as clichéd as that sounds.”
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