One of the undeniable truths of Netflix’s hit series Stranger Things is that the kids stole the show. Even when we’re being playful about the series’ buzz and success, we have to admit that this wonderfully cast group of child actors didn’t come off as too cheesy or too childish. But when it comes to which child actor we love the most, if we absolutely have to pick favorites, the general consensus seems to be in Gaten Matarazzo’s favor, as people just love Dustin.
What makes this character so special, as the show’s co-creator Matt Duffer explained last month, is that he’s authentic because they wrote Matarazzo’s actual ailment into the show, as he doesn’t have a collarbone or front teeth. But it’s also about the young man’s charisma, and how he made his castmates laugh during production the same way he made us laugh while binge-watching the show. And now, he tells The Daily Beast, his performance as “Toothless” has helped inspire other people who are living with cleidocranial dysplasia:
“It’s a very rare condition and not many people have it around the world,” he says. “When they wrote it into the show, I [started] getting a lot of messages and emails online from people who have the condition, saying that it really helps them come out of their shells a little bit. Because a lot of people have it much worse than I do and it affects them much worse than it does me.
“I’ve always liked to embrace the condition but other people don’t feel the same way,” he continues. “They say that because this was in the show and this is the first time they’ve heard of it outside the doctor’s office, it made them feel really good and it inspired them,” he continues. “Those messages really inspired me and made me feel good and appreciate the Duffers even more. I look up to them like they’re my older brothers. I mean, they’re just great guys. They inspired a lot of people to come out of their shells and embrace what they have.”
Hopefully, when season two rolls around and we catch up with the town of Hawkins a year later, Dustin will be front and center in whatever terrifying shenanigans arise next. Even better, let’s hope he plays a part in Tommy and Carol being the Upside-Down’s next residents, because they sure do deserve the worst.