The scene-stealing young actor from the summer’s most talked-about show opens up about living with a rare genetic disorder called cleidocranial dysplasia.
Gaten Matarazzo may be only 14, but after the arrival of Stranger Things, the young actor is already considered a rising star for his turn as Dustin, the curly-haired comedy relief in the sci-fi adventure. However, Matarazzo suffers from a rare disorder, which involves regular surgical procedures.
“It’s a condition where you’re born without your collarbones,” he said on The Jonathan Ross Show. “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.”
In the show, Matarazzo’s character also has the disorder, which explains Dustin’s endearing lisp.
“I have a really mild case and a lot of people have it much worse than I do,” he said. “I feel like putting it into the show has really raised awareness for it.”
The young star went on to explain that because the disorder is genetic, his real concern is passing it on to his children, if he decides to have kids one day.
“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. So now that it’s in my genes, I have a 50 percent chance of passing it down in my genes and it could be much worse for them.”
But, although Matarazzo is young, he said that he wants to be a positive example of someone living with the rare disorder.
“I just wanna raise awareness for it and let people know it’s not something that they should be afraid of showing,” the 14-year-old shared.