Stranger Things had its very own Goonie

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Yeah, we know – what about Eleven? Stranger Things’ res­i­dent psy­chic is, un­de­ni­ably, the coolest char­ac­ter in our new favourite show. But if there’s one face that sums up Stranger Things’ ’80s ap­peal, then it’s surely Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin – the love­able, base­ball-capped X-Men fan­boy. Stranger Things as a whole does a great job of ap­pear­ing to be a trans­mis­sion from some par­al­lel uni­verse where the ’90s never hap­pened, but there’s some­thing quite un­canny about just how per­fectly Matarazzo nails the look. The curly hair, the hat, the smile, the teeth (or lack thereof ) – it’s all com­pletely on point. You can eas­ily imag­ine Matarazzo be­ing cast in some of the show’s touch­stone movie in­flu­ences – run­ning around on an ad­ven­ture with the Goonies, per­haps, or beach-comb­ing on An­to­nio Bay while dodg­ing “the fog”.

But it’s not just his look that makes Dustin so ap­peal­ing – it’s Matarazzo’s per­for­mance. “We met Gaten and ba­si­cally tai­lored the show to him,” coshowrun­ner Matt Duf­fer has ad­mit­ted. In­deed, they wrote the ac­tor’s real clei­docra­nial dys­pla­sia into the show. Since then, Matarazzo says, he’s been bom­barded with let­ters from view­ers with the same den­tal con­di­tion, thank­ing him for be­ing such a pos­i­tive on-screen pres­ence.

And pos­i­tive he is. Dustin sup­ports Mike when he starts to doubt their mis­sion. He holds the group to­gether when Lu­cas wigs out. He rev­els in Dun­geons & Dragons and comics and the fact that he’s a part of a real ad­ven­ture. He’s one of us and his warmth con­trib­utes hugely to the show’s pal­pa­ble sense of en­thu­si­asm. It’s a mas­ter­ful per­for­mance from the 13-year-old ac­tor and we can’t wait to see more in sea­son two. Will Salmon

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