Dacre Montgomery isn’t just one of Australia’s rising stars – he’s also a thoughtful and positive role model for young men who speaks up for mental health awareness and challenges the archetypal, outdated image of the ‘Aussie bloke’. DMARGE spoke with him about the future of Australian fashion, navigating showbiz and why men should be more open about their mental health.
Dacre Montgomery is only 28 but he’s quickly making a name for himself as one of Australia’s hottest acting talents. You probably know him as the bad boy Billy Hargrove in Netflix’s blockbuster series Stranger Things – he’s also fresh off the back of portraying American producer/director Steve Binder in Elvis, which just picked up a few Oscars at the 95th Academy Awards.
He’s also just been named the new ambassador for iconic Australian menswear brand Politix, fronting their innovative new “The Gentle Man” Autumn/Winter campaign – which, much like Dacre himself, is forging a bold new direction for modern masculinity and style.
We had the chance to sit down with Dacre and talk about this new campaign, as well as how it aligns with his vision for Australian masculinity in 2023 and beyond.
For Dacre, it’s been a really natural collaboration. “Politix came to me with the idea for this first campaign which was sort of to challenge I guess, the perception of modern masculinity or masculinity in general, especially in Australia.”
“Growing up, I wasn’t someone that played sport… I was kind of a bit heavy-set… I just didn’t fit into that kind of mould of the perceived masculine Australian guy. And that’s something I’ve talked a lot about in my career.”Dacre Montgomery
“We’re both on the same page… This is a real opportunity here to collaborate and create something beautiful… So I’m pumped to be involved with them.”
In real life, Dacre is the opposite of his Stranger Things character. Gentle and considerate, he’s a true artist at heart: his popular podcast, DKMH, sees him put his own beat poetry to music. He puts his heart on his sleeve in a way that typical Aussie actors or indeed typical Aussie blokes are often afraid to do. The definition of Australian masculinity is changing, and Dacre’s right at the coalface of that.
“I feel like the blankets been taken off a bit in terms of, here’s how you have to behave, here’s who you have to be, here’s what you have to call yourself,” he suggests.
“I think we’re living in a time where people can kind of just be who they are, right? And there’s a lot of freedom and flexibility… That discussion [about Australian masculinity] is continually growing and evolving and changing and ongoing.”Dacre Montgomery
“I think it’s an exciting time, especially for someone who grew up not fitting into the box, I guess, in some ways. It’s a nice time to be involved in fashion and in the arts, especially where I feel like there’s a concentration of change. But it’s exciting to see it on a bigger sort of scale.”
Originally from Perth, Dacre calls Los Angeles home these days. It’s given him an interesting reference point about how the modern definition of masculinity is growing and changing – as well as Australian men’s style.
“Growing up in Australia, I always used to wear collared shirts with tonnes of buttons down at the front, right? And whenever I used to come to the States years ago to do press and to do work, I would always continue that because that’s who I am.
“And I remember people always saying like, ‘Why do you have so many buttons undone? Like, why are you doing that?’ And I was just like, that’s who I am. And that’s how they do it in Australia. And that’s kind of what I feel comfortable. It’s funny [because] in the last couple of years, no one’s asked that question, right? It’s a weird thing, and it’s just evaporated in the conversation.”
“So I think even that in itself is an isolated representation of change: it’s indicative of change even in the conversation or the perception of like, challenging someone on ‘Why do you dress this way? Why do you behave this way?'”Dacre Montgomery
Something that Dacre is quite happy to challenge is the culture of silence Australian men often have around mental health. On his part, Dacre has been exceptionally open about his obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): an incredibly common disorder that affects Aussie men that few men are brave enough to talk about.
“Look, it’s a generational thing. I’m sure our parent’s generation; our grandparent’s generation had a lot of other things to worry about, right? And I’m not disregarding that. I think we’re just at a point in society where there is a dialogue that has been created for men to talk about their feelings. And I think it’s fantastic.”
“You know, my mum’s a psychologist, my grandfather is a psychologist, and there’s a lot of openness and encouragement in conversation in my family. But in general, there isn’t. And recently, I feel like there is.”
“I talk with my guy friends about, you know, stuff that’s going on with me and in my life and everyone’s very open and very vocal, and the older I get, the more I feel like it’s something that’s [more] talked about.”Dacre Montgomery
“My mum, who works in perinatal women’s mental health, started the first group in her organisation for men experiencing perinatal mental health issues whereas before, it wasn’t really something that was talked about. So even just seeing that through her and how she was creating change – okay, let’s get men talking about their feelings in a scenario that might have traditionally been mums and bubs…”
“I think I’ve had a lot of good mentors and I think just in my life, suffering from different mental health issues and having a platform to talk about it has been fantastic because I’m very open with my journey, let’s call it that.”
“There are so many guys that I’ve met along the way that just feel like they don’t have the opportunity to talk about what’s going on with them. So if I’m given the opportunity to talk about it on a bigger platform, I think it’s just important to be genuine about it,” he explains.
Speaking of good mentors, another mentor in Dacre’s camp is Hugh Jackman – arguably the most famous Aussie bloke in Hollywood. We had to ask him: what’s the best piece of advice Hugh’s ever given him?
“It’s not even just advice that he’s given me in person but I think it’s his actions,” Dacre says. “He has a flawless reputation. And he has a reputation for being one of the hardest-working guys in the industry. And I think that’s more than words, right?”
“He has a history of multiple decades of showing how hardworking he is and how nice he is to people… That means more to me than something that someone could say in person on the spot. To show through your actions over many years – that’s inspiring, right? Because it’s genuine.”
As for what advice he’d give to other young Aussie men, Dacre simply says to “be yourself.”
“Hold your head up and be proud about who you are and what makes you you and don’t shy away from being that person. Because I certainly haven’t and it’s held me in good stead with my relationships with my family, my friends, my partner, everyone around me – being authentic.”Dacre Montgomery
Check out Dacre Montgomery and the rest of Politix’s stylish Autumn/Winter 2023 collection at Politix’s online store here.