Stranger Things had its very own Goonie
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