Strange things afoot for Gaten Matarazzo; who went from Les Mis on Broadway, to a TV career and a net worth beyond imagination, for any child actor.
1. Stranger Things: When Gaten Himself Was D’Art
Great things come in small packages, they say. Before he was Dustin Henderson, the adorable audience favorite on Stranger things, Gaten Matarazzo, was a typical small-town kid. Born September 8, 2002, the middle child, his mother Heather named him after his father, Gaten Matarazzo senior. Matarazzo has one older sister, Sabrina and a younger brother, Carmen and was raised in Little Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. Gaten Matarazzo had big dreams for such a little boy. However, he was born with a rare condition and it affected his teeth, collar bones and skull. The long-term effects of this condition also delayed development of his bones and stunted his growth. Otherwise, the prognosis is good for a normal life-span for Gaten Matarazzo. The good news was: Gaten could sing. The bad news: he had to have multiple corrective surgeries, just to have a normal life and endured several cosmetic operations, throughout his childhood, before he could pursue his burning ambition to sing on Broadway. Now THAT’S courage, in a 5ft 4″ package.
2. Gaten Matarazzo Can Sing: Broadway Baby
The east coast can claim him first. Gaten Matarazzo was a star on Broadway before landing in our conscience in the new pop culture favorite, Stranger Things. Yes, the west coast was the last to know. Let’s be real. There has always been a rivalry between actors from New York and Los Angeles. New York actors love the “thea-tuh” and Angelenos are known for their film and TV work. The point is: New Yorkers DO have strong acting chops from stage and Broadway. It is true; some of the most talented actors have come out of New York. To name a few: Marisa Tomei, Jane Fonda, Mira Sorvino, Emmy Rossum, Laura Linney, Idina Menzel, Patti LuPone, Matthew Broderick, Joel Grey – the list goes on and on. And we’re not even touching the Actor’s Studio, which bred Marlon Brando, James Dean, Montgomery Clift, Paul Newman, Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, et al. The bottom line: New York has always been a melting pot for triple threats. New York is a town that breeds talent that can sing, dance and act. Actor Gaten Matarazzo is no different. So, it’s no surprise that audiences on the west coast didn’t know that Gaten Matarazzo was renowned for his amazing singing voice and was famous on Broadway, before capturing our hearts as the lovable Dustin Henderson on Stranger Things. In fact, Gaten Matarazzo was only 10 years old, when he scored the role of Benji, in Priscilla Queen Of The Desert in 2011 and continued his stage success two years later in a coveted role for child stage actors. The self-proclaimed theatre kid played Gavroche in the Broadway revival of Les Misérables, in 2014. Great going, Mr Gaten Matarazzo. SIDEBAR: Just so you know; to be in a musical on Broadway, you must have other-wordly pipes, to stand out in a town that breeds so much theatre talent. Our very own Dustin Henderson aka Gaten Matarazzo, sings like an angel. It is an awe-inspiring gift. There is no doubt that he will get to play the lead in Phantom Of The Opera and turn his childhood dream into a reality, one day – mark my word.
“When was younger, I definitely thought musical theater was sort of more pure than film. I used to say I’d never go to film because we had to get it right the first time in musical theater. But then, of course, I started doing film and realized I loved it. Keep in mind that I was 8 years old when I said that. Now I know that the musical theater industry has little idea of what goes on in film, and the film industry has little idea of what goes on in musical theater. So I’m happy to have experience in both.”
Gaten Matarazzo on his love for theater.
Gaten Matarazzo: Stage Veteran
It should be noted that Matarazzo, at 11 was performing 6 days a week PLUS matinees for his role of Gavroche in Les Misérables, all while attending school. That’s an incredible work ethic for someone so young.
10 Year Old Gaten Doing Karaoke: Amazeballs
Gaten Matarazzo has serious singing chops. He’s a trained vocalist and even in a casual hang out, can just belt out a difficult song, with ease. Here he is, just 11 years old, singing at a small party. It’s breathtaking that Gaten just casually sings, “Bring him home” from “Les Misérables” and gives chills. You’re welcome.
3. Gaten Has No Teeth: His Condition
Stranger Things actor Gaten Matarazzo, was born with a condition called Cleidocranial Dysplasia. Cleidocranial Dysplasia also goes by the abbreviated name CCD. His is a mild case, but even still, the actor had to undergo multiple corrective surgeries, when he was growing up. The surgeries were primarily for his teeth, skull and jaw. In fact, the Gaten Matarazzo, at 15 years old and still developing, has no teeth and uses dentures. Matarazzo also has no collar bones – since the condition affects these areas, it’s quite a common occurrence for those afflicted with it. As of October 2017, he’s undergoing multiple oral surgeries while Stranger Things is on hiatus. The primary goal is to have dental implants, so he will finally be able to rid himself of his dentures. Gaten Matarazzo is also a philanthropist, who not only raises awareness to the condition, by having the Stranger Things series creators the Duffer brothers write that Dustin Henderson suffers from CCD; but also tirelessly promotes awareness for CCD in interviews and charities. Currently, Gaten Matarazzo is helping the charity “CCD Smiles” raise funds for less fortunate children with the condition, to assist needy families in funding their children affected by CCD, to be able to afford their oral and cranial surgeries. What a sweetheart.
CCD is short for cleidocranial dysplasia. It’s a genetic condition where it affects the growth of most of your bones. Most of the time, you’re born without your collar bones. What’s most noticeable is that it affects your height. You don’t always get every symptom—I’ve got every symptom on a very mild level. The organization is mainly for people who can’t afford to get dental work. The problem is a lot of orthodontists and surgeons say it’s cosmetic, whereas the people who get cosmetic [surgeries] say it’s medical. They just don’t want to pay for it.”
Gaten Matarazzo on CCD and CCD Smiles
“It’s a condition where you’re born without your collar bones — I don’t have any,” Matarazzo explained. “It affects your facial growth, your skull growth… it affects your teeth… that’s why I don’t have any, these are fake, right here.”
Gaten Matarazzo on his condition CCD
4. Matarazzo’s Net worth Is Not Child’s Play
For only 15 years old, Gaten Matarazzo is certainly earning grown up money. As of 2017, his net worth is $2 million! He certainly has been socking it away since starring on Broadway twice: Benji, in the production of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, in 2011 and then as Gavroche/Petit Gervais, in the production of Les Miserables, in 2014. Gaten Matarazzo was already an acting veteran, doing 6 days a week on Broadway, when he landed the role of the adorable Dustin Henderson, on the Netflix TV series Stranger Things 1 and 2. On his downtime, he also had a guest starring role on the New York-based series, starring James Spader, The Blacklist. If that’s not enough, Matarazzo will be starring in the movie “Zach’s Lie,” slated for shooting, in 2018. The popular actor has a bright future in Hollywood and on the east coast and it’s a sure thing that his agent is fielding multiple movie offers for the up-and-coming actor. Gaten Matarazzo is poised to become the next big movie star in the vein of Shia Labeouf, without the personal problems. Last, but not least, Gaten Matarazzo was recently nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award, along with his co-stars, for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, for the popular 80s horror/drama, Stranger Things. A nice way to end his 2017.
5. Dustin Henderson And Stranger Things 2: Dustin Lives!
Halloween 2017 has drawn to a close and most of us have binge-watched the entire season of Stranger Things 2, almost immediately, since it’s release, in time for Halloween 2017. And if you haven’t – go slap yourself, grab some popcorn and your favorite beverage and do yourself and all of us a favor. None of us can stand the whining that comes from those who haven’t caught up. Just do it. But, to be slightly kind, there is a spoiler coming, so avoid the rest of the article if you need to. Basically, the Duffer brothers, Gaten Matarazzo and the stellar cast brought the unique small town 80s vibe back again and didn’t disappoint the fans. The music, clothing, video games and Dustin Henderson were on point. Not to mention the fabulous icon Winona Ryder is BACK! She’s so good as Joyce and some of the moments of terror have certain homages to Stephen King’s “The Shining” about it. She’s like Shelley Duvall with cajones. SPOILER ALERT: None of the kids die in Season 2. Of course, the series ended with a teaser to Season 3, with the big bad whatever thingy, coming back for Gaten Matarazzo and the gang. We will all stay shook until next year. Hurry up 2018 and Stranger Things 3!
“I have many similarities with my character. We both have a pretty sarcastic sense of humor. I think the main difference between Dustin and I is that Dustin never tries to be funny while it’s kind of a hobby of mine.”
Gaten Matarazzo on the similarities between himself and Dustin Henderson
“Of course it takes place in the ’80s, so it has the nostalgia for that era that is very popular now. But it also has a unique mix of genres, and they all complement each other. Mike and Eleven have their romance blossoming story, which appeals to a lot of young teenagers. Dustin and Lucas bring a comedy element to the show. Joyce has an intense drama being a mother. Hopper has his mysterious backstory that we don’t know much about. And that’s not easy to do; you can’t just smash a bunch of genres together and hope it works, they have to actually complement each other. Even the characters who are funny, such as Dustin, go through traumatic experiences.”
Gaten Matarazzo on the popular Stranger Things 2.