Last month, I was in front of the computer screen, taking advantage of the blessings that the internet gave us. On the other end of Zoom was Gaten Matarazzo, one of the most entertaining and funny stars of Stranger Things, one of the most talked about TV series in the world!
I think you have in some form dominated the world of Stranger Things for the past six years. Even if you haven’t watched it, the information about the characters and the plot has definitely been stolen from your ears. Because it’s one of the world’s greatest productions, one of Netflix’s first greatest original hits. So much so that when the second term came, there were even themed races that would finish faster in one sitting! We left the show at its last, darkest point to date. In the new period that started on May 27, this dose is increasing enough. In fact, the creators of the series, brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, drop this note for each semester, and each time the feeling of tension and anxiety increases.
Gaten Matarazzo plays the character of Dustin. The consensus about him is that he is wonderfully likeable and incredibly talented. In fact, not only Gaten, but also the young actor team of the series are the icons of the new generation. (He also introduced David Harbor and Winona Ryder to a new generation.) I think the main reason we bond with them too tightly is because I’m going to sound like a ‘baby boomer’, but they grow up right in front of our eyes. They were almost at puberty when the series started… Gaten is now 19 years old, for example. Just like in real life, they have to deal with ‘imaginary’ feelings in the series. This period, we see that six months have passed since the Battle of Starcourt, which terrified Hawkins and caused great destruction. Our group of friends, struggling with the consequences of the war, fell apart for the first time. For example, this was one of the biggest difficulties while filming the period, because the team is always so tight. On the other hand, they now have to face the chaos of high school life! Hello, first steps to adulthood…
It’s when they’re at their most vulnerable that a terrible, supernatural threat emerges. To solve the threat, other chilling secrets are about to be revealed.
With three Emmy nominations for Best Drama Series, Stranger Things is one of Netflix’s most watched productions. The 3rd period, with 582 million hours watched, became the second Most Popular English series on the Netflix Top 10 list. The first part of the fourth term started on 27 May. The release date of the second part was July 1st.
Filming was delayed due to the pandemic. How did it feel to be Dustin again after a long absence?
Oh! It felt incredibly cool. I think I was transitioning to a period where I was starting to fantasize about my character. What’s so perfect about Dustin is that I feel so free when I create it, which makes the whole process natural. I was able to make decisions on his name even without reading the scenes, and now I got to know him so well that it was possible for me to predict what he would do. This eliminated my troubles that might occur on the set. But I guess the real problem will come out when creating new characters from now on.
Meanwhile, what do you miss most about being Dustin?
Your honesty, your heart. He’s more confident than me, I have to admit. Since he is a teenager in middle school, he sometimes gets distracted with his girlfriend bets, apart from that, he knows very well about himself and what he wants.
I guess yes. Sometimes he falters too, but after all, he’s a middle school character. He has an unstoppable side, in every subject. This is what I like. Always behind the decisions, confident. And super smart. He knows what a smart ‘brat’ he is, he’s proud of it, but he doesn’t talk too much. A character I want to emulate. The third period was the darkest in the middle of what we’ve watched so far.
What should we expect from the fourth period? How did you feel when the script reached you?
I think this period goes above the previous one in terms of that dark world. My brain went numb while reading it. Episodes with a greatly increased dose of anxiety await the audience. I know we said the same for the third one, but this time you will get goosebumps. I also love the productions inspired by this period. There are ’80s movie theaters about Muriel’s Wedding. As usual, we owe a lot to our amazing creative writers and creative team.
This is a production on Stranger Things friendship bonds. Especially the ‘bromance’ between you and Steve was everyone’s favourite. Will the relationship deepen this period?
It’s great, I think the reason behind everyone’s realization of these relationships is the dynamic in the middle of us, the actors. And we are set free. I love Steve (Joe Keery), I hope he’s thinking the exact same thing for me. Our relationship continues in the same way as we behave when the cameras are not with us off the set. Joe loves his freedom and sets himself free during filming. He adds new nuances to the script, plays with ideas. For example, I don’t like watching myself at all, but I love watching the scenes we take part in together.
The characters you play are growing. It’s normal in this middle, you grew up with your character. May I ask the best part of it?
The best part of growing up? Hmm, I guess nothing is a joke anymore. You are stepping into adulthood. Having a driver’s license, graduating from high school, making the rules of my life are suitable… I have a job that I love very much and I am very satisfied with myself while performing it. What would happen if it weren’t for the people who made my life easier, those who gave me this job… Growing up is a little scary, but it’s also exciting.
We caught you singing recently. Are you continuing with the new episodes?
Ha ha, I guess you’ll have to wait and see for that.
So what are your favorite songs?
You caught me by surprise! I’ll have to think about it. I usually listen to what I’m feeling at the moment, but this is the middle Simon & I’m stuck with “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Garfunkel. Was that too depressing?
You just said it was cool to be Gaten again. What makes this character cool? In fact, not only the character, but also an incredibly large fan base of the series. How did you achieve this?
We were very young when we took our first step on the set. In addition, we were playing people very close to ourselves. Second, we were always involved in the creative process. Even though we were young, almost children, we were always respected. This was an experience that shaped us for years to come.
As soon as the trailers of the fourth period started circulating on the internet, all of your hair suddenly became ‘meat’. Did you expect this?
No way! And before I was terrified that they would turn it into a ‘meme’ but these were incredibly funny. Honestly, I didn’t expect the hair to turn into an event.
The end of the fifth period parable. Are you upset about leaving Gaten? Or would you like a side story to be created over your character?
I think yes I will, so I’ll try to get as much pleasure out of playing it as I can. It’s very comfortable being in Gaten’s place. A feeling of being in residence. But I am also very enthusiastic about trying something new afterwards. I will always remember how precious these years were. And not just for my profession. The friendships I made, the people I met…
Interview: Aykun Taşdöner
Taken from ELLE Turkey June 2022 issue.