Actor Gaten Matarazzo’s Dustin is perhaps the most popular and likeable character in the sci-fi horror drama, Stranger Things. The 19-year-old was all of 12 when he appeared in first season of the Netflix show. Seven years and four season later, we ask him what keeps him going with the same energy and enthusiasm as season one?
“Every time we start a new season, every day I show up on set, it just feels more exciting than the last. The love I have for this show grows and the love I have for these people (his co-stars) grows exponentially. I seriously could not have asked to be a part of a better project,” Gaten tells us, during an interaction in Sydney, Australia.
Given that these years also happen to be the same period when OTT platforms gained steam across the world including India, Stranger Things has definitely benefited in terms of reaching wider audiences.
Gaten agrees and says, “That’s something [access to OTT platforms] that really sets it apart. I feel the ability for people to sit down and get it all out of the way like one day to binge was definitely a big part of the appeal [of the series]. And I think that’s how people really enjoy watching the show. We have done a bit of a different spin this year by separating season four into two volumes.”
Revolving around a group of high school friends, who love to play Dungeons & Dragons — a fantasy tabletop role-playing game — and how they turn saviours for a fictional town, Hawkins, after it’s attacked by supernatural forces and outworldly monsters (Demogorgons), the show combines elements of horror, thrill, drama, sci-fi. But what remains at the core is friendship among these kids. And that’s what Gaten finds the most exciting and fascinating thing about the show.
“You worded it perfectly by saying that at the core, it really is about friends, about community and the love you have with the people around because you do everything for that. You go through so much and fight against something this horrible (monsters) for the normalcy, so you can go back to the mall with your friends, or go back to just paying D & D and enjoying high school. That’s why these characters fight so hard because not only do they want to fight for love they have for each other, but also their community,” he elaborates.
While Stranger Things has a huge ensemble cast, each character get to stand out and makes their presence felt. And Gaten, in particular gets the most attention for his quirky persona with that curly hair and toothless smile. Asked him if he could go back to season one and change one thing about Dustin — except for the hair — and he quips, “It’s always such a challenge (chuckles). I always get a call like six months before we start filming… the signal to stop cutting your hair and that’s always a sad, sad day. That’s when they call and say, ‘Hey, jus let it grow’. So that’s about the hair.”
However, he is quick to add that there’s very little he’s like to change about his character if anything at all. “I think the introduction to the show and how my character would progress, it is really quite fun to play. I mean he’s really one of my favourite characters on the show because of the connection I have with him,” concludes Gaten, confirming that there is going to be a fifth season and “it’s going to be emotional going into that”.
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