Dacre Montgomery calls ‘bullsh*t’ on toxic masculinity after years of being bullied

The story follows Lucy, a young art gallery worker, who is nursing a broken heart following a disastrous breakup.

But after mistaking a handsome stranger called Nick (played by Dacre) for an Uber driver, she creates an exhibit for souvenirs of past relationships with his help and realiaes in the process that men aren’t all unsupportive, macho idiots after all.

Dacre Montgomery burst onto our screens as the brooding yet troubled Billy in iStranger Things/i on Netflix and now he is heading to the big screen in The Broken Hearts Gallery.

Here, in the latest edition of GLAMOUR UNFILTERED – our bi-weekly celebrity chat show hosted byJosh Smith – Dacre opens up about tearing down his own relationship with masculinity, priding himself on being a fully supportive boyfriend, overcoming bullying and how he felt ‘alone’ as a child because of it…

The Broken Hearts Gallery isn’t exclusively about the relationship between these two characters it was just as much about their relationships with themselves. What does the idea of self-love mean to you?

I think it’s pretty close to what the director,Natalie Krinsky presented me with. Natalie, when I first met her said, “I have had this film written for a long time and the biggest thing in my life is having a partner be that male, female or whoever, who supports me in my endeavours and really, really wants me to shine and blossom as an individual as well as in the couple.”

For me that was the biggest thing I wanted to target in this film and the biggest thing for me in my own life – with my partner – is to try and support her in her endeavours as much as I can and in her choices.

We need more films like this where we are showing people positive and mutually supportive relationshipsas there are so many representations of gas lighting out there today. Was that important to you?

I think it’s important. This is a light film and a beautiful bit of escapism which I think is exciting but there is a message in there about supporting the ones you love. That is coming from a level where I am genuine about saying to you, I want to support the people I love in my life. That definitely attracted to me to this character.

Nick isn’t the typical or traditional uber masculine character you expect to see in romantic comedies, he’s very open and honest about his feelings. What has your own relationship with the idea of masculinitybeen like especially after playing Billy in Stranger Things?

With Stranger Things we talked about the archetypal masculine bully and everything we explored about my character in that show was fantastic because when I was a kid, I used to think I suffered from sensitivity.

That was something I spoke about but when I came of age, I realised that was a gift to be a sensitive guy. As a kid I thought this archetypal meaning of masculinity was someone who hides and conceals their emotions from the rest of the world. When I came of age, I called bullsh*t on that. I want to be a sensitive person and I want to embrace that side of me. In Stranger Things I wanted to make him more than the bully and someone who is struggling with so much more.

When do you feel like you came of age in that sense?

I have had multiple parts of my personal life and in my career where I felt like I summoned enough power to push back against whatever ideas I used to think I was as a kid. I feel that has had various iterations in my life. Leaving High School was one big step. Leaving University was one big step and all these ideas of institutionalised life.

Then being able to work to a point in my career where I am confident in myself but throughout your whole life you are learning. I still struggle with self confidence but now I have enough grounding below me to really own my personality and my choices. I think for everyone that comes at different ages and if it had happened to me at a different time as a kid, I wouldn’t be the person I am today, so I am thankful for my experiences.

How much as camaraderie helped you – especially on a set like The Broken Hearts Gallery?

It’s something I have fallen more and more in love with, coming from a childhood where I felt alone in my creativity it allows you to blossom more when you have people around you who are passionate about hearing stories and hearing new voices.

How did you feel alone when you were growing up?

When I was younger, I was bullied a lot. I felt trapped in the high school and the primary setting and that idea individualises you. I never played sport as a kid, so I never had the idea of team built into my life, my mind, my work. So, when you are a bit of loner it’s the opposite to when you get to work collaboratively with all the women behind the camera in this project for instance.

Do you feel like you are doing this career for the younger you, who was bullied?

Of course. We were talking about removing masks and I am doing that for the younger me, selfishly as well and I have been working on that a lot during the break. There’s always a sub set of ourselves we suppress because it wasn’t right at the time or we weren’t allowed to do that or people didn’t want us to be that and I think when you press all that into a ball it becomes this raging energy and it becomes this powerful dark force.

For me it’s about giving that part of my childhood the power to be who that person always wanted to be. That’s for me, definitely what I tried to do in my own life is to shed a layer and then shed another layer. I use every role as a catharsis, that’s probably a selfish thing but I have done that every time.

It’s amazing to hear you talk about the things you have been through. If we had more men in the public eye talking openly and honestly about their emotions it would help a lot of people…

I think this idea of talking honestly needs to become for a regular thing but how do you attack it on a bigger scale? I am yet to figure that out. I will always talk candidly about it – like we are – but it’s about finding where things went wrong in one part of the system along the way and allow these changes in values to trickle down into our meaning of masculinity.

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