[Warning: This post contains major spoilers for Stranger Things 2.]
Actor Dacre Montgomery wasn’t worried about taking on the role of Billy, Stranger Things 2's new abusive town bully. He has an awesome fast car, a button-up shirt and the world’s most beautiful mullet to back him up.
He also has Stranger Things 2’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer, making sure his character isn’t just a one-note jerk.
At a recent Netflix press event, Montgomery commented on how the Duffers crafted Billy into something more than a 1980s stereotype. Montgomery was happy that despite being a newcomer on set, he was allowed to have input on his character, which included comments on whether there should be scenes that showed who Billy really was.
“I said to them, ‘I really want the audience to have something that we see in Billy that makes him more likeable’ because this anti-hero is, you know, you want to see some of the background,” Montgomery said.
While the Duffer Brothers said they have a plan for how the series would end — or at least how long Stranger Things will be — a lot of details are still up in the air. Montgomery said that because of this, scripts are often being written during filming, especially for later episodes. So Montgomery didn’t find out that he was going to get a backstory until they were filming the sixth episode.
In the penultimate episode, we finally get to see what family life is like for Billy and his stepsister, Max (Sadie Sink). When their parents come home and realize that Max has snuck out, their father (Will Chase) pushes him up against a wall and demands that he go find her. Up until this point, we know that Billy is abusive and aggressive, especially towards Max and Steve (Joe Keery), but in this scene we understand where a lot of the anger comes from.
“You get to see why Billy is the way he is,” Montgomery said. “The scene with his father touches upon a certain learned quality that I think he's obviously adopted and has put a certain mean streak in him and in the way that he operates.”
Keery and Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler) attested to how well the Duffers collaborated with actors. Besides the basics of who their characters are and what their story arcs may be, both Keery and Dyer said they were allowed input into what the tone of their characters.
“They're just kind of up to be as collaborative as possible,” Keery said. “Let's say what [Montgomery] said is a very good description of just what it's like to work on that show. Just the tone that they set.”
It’s unclear if Billy’s portrayal will go over with all of the audience, but it worked for Keery.
“You feel like you're so sure about Billy the whole time,” he said. “Then at the end, it leaves you with this taste in your mouth like, ‘Well, hold on, wait a second. Maybe I don't know this guy because of that scene.’”
As for where Billy is going in a potential third Stranger Things installment (confirmed by the Duffer Brothers in August), Montgomery couldn’t say much, but did tease that we would be seeing more of him. He gets his comeuppance at the end of Stranger Things 2 thanks to Max, but what happens next? Will he become a better person?
“There was a lot of discussions about a continuation and a past, the past and future of Billy, like where he's come from,” Montgomery said. “He came later in the game and then where he's going was a discussion towards the end of the show.”
Stranger Things 2 is available to stream in full right now on Netflix.