Gaten Matarazzo, the actor who plays the loveable-but-dorky Dustin in Stranger Things, recently opened up about this struggle with the rare genetic disorder cleidocranial dysostosis.
In an appearance on The Jonathan Ross Show, Matarazzo explained that he’s going need a lot of surgery. “It’s a condition where you’re born without your collarbones,” said the 14-year-old. “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.”
Matarazzo considers himself lucky. Though he has the disease, he has a fairly mild case, and it could have been so much worse.
“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. 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.”
Gaten is also thankful that the creators of Stranger Things gave his character Dustin the condition so he could raise awareness about such a rare but trying disorder.
“I just wanna raise awareness for it and let people know it’s not something that they should be afraid of showing,” he said.
Gaten’s condition hasn’t stopped him from pursuing his dreams, despite the fact that it affects his speech. In addition to being an up-and-coming actor, Gaten is a Broadway singer with a voice so beautiful it’s hard to believe. And to think, at 14 years old, the rest of us were busy figuring out who to sit with at lunch. You go, Gaten!