If you’re like us, your favorite kid on Stranger Things by a long shot is Dustin, who’s played with endless charm by actor Gaten Matarazzo. Matarazzo happens to suffer from a condition called cleidocranial dysplasia, which affects the growth of bones and teeth. It also previously seemed to affect Matarazzo ability to get roles, as many showrunners refused to hire him because of it.
Fortunately Stranger Things‘ Duffer Brothers were the complete opposite — they even worked the condition into the show. And now that Matarazzo is one of the hottest child actors in Hollywood, he’s using the platform to raise awareness for cleidocranial dysplasia.
“It’s a condition where you’re born without your collarbones,” he told Jonathan Ross in a recent interview. “I don’t have any. It affects your facial growth, your skull growth, your teeth — that’s why I don’t have any [teeth], these are fake right here. I have teeth, but they’re all baby teeth. I need a lot of surgery.”
“I have a really mild case and a lot of people have it really worse than I do,” Matarazzo continued. “And I feel like putting it into the show really raised awareness for it. And I’m lucky that mine is very mild, but now that it’s in my genes… it’s usually passed on by genes, it wasn’t for me, it just happened. Now that it’s in my genes I have a 50% chance of passing it down in my genes and it could be much worse for them.”
There’s no magic bullet or cure for cleidocranial dysplasia. So Matarazzo’s goal when talking about it is to educate people about the condition in the hopes that the stigma surrounding it — a stigma that almost robbed Matarazzo of an acting career — goes away.
“I just wanna raise awareness for it and let people know it’s not something that they should be afraid of showing,” he finished.
The reaction to the segment has been overwhelmingly positive, with some being moved to tears.
You can watch the whole interview here: