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Gaten Matarazzo suffers from rare condition which was written into Stranger Things

Emily Brown

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Gaten Matarazzo suffers from rare condition which was written into Stranger Things

Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo has opened up about how his condition was written into the hit Netflix show for his character, Dustin.

Matarazzo had a couple of acting credits prior to his role on Stranger Things, but over the past six years, fans across the globe have come to know and love him as Dustin; faithful friend, sarcastic joker and bestie-slash-brother figure to Steve Harrington.

In the very first episode of the show, Dustin defends himself against bullies by explaining his teeth are 'coming in', adding: "It’s called cleidocranial dysplasia.” 

Gaten Matarazzo spoke about his condition at his Stranger Things audition. Credit: Netflix
Gaten Matarazzo spoke about his condition at his Stranger Things audition. Credit: Netflix

Unlike the Upside Down, cleidocranial dysplasia is entirely non-fictional, and is actually a genetic disorder which affects the development of the bones and teeth. 

Like his character, Matarazzo himself has been diagnosed with this condition, and following his casting on the show, he opened up about how it has impacted his career.

The actor told The Doctors in a 2018 interview that his condition was 'one of the biggest reasons' why he hadn't been getting roles, but when he auditioned for Stranger Things he started explaining what it was, and later learned it would be incorporated into the show.

“Once I got the part, they said they’re gonna incorporate that and use it in a realistic way," he explained. "They asked me if it was okay if the kids in the show had bullied me because of it. I said it’s totally cool. It’s realistic.”

Speaking on The Jonathan Ross Show in 2016, Matarazzo further explained the condition, saying: "It's a condition where you are born without your collarbones; I don't have any. It affects your facial growth, your skull growth, it affects your teeth. That's why I don't have any - these are fake - I have teeth but they're all baby teeth.

"I just want to raise awareness for it and let people know that it's not something that you should be afraid of showing."

Matarazzo was praised for his candour in the wake of his appearance, with one appreciative fan writing: "Woke up to Gaten Matarazzo raising awareness of cleidocranial dysplasia, i love this kid."

Doctor David A. Staffenberg, M.D had previously told Self that cleidocranial dysplasia is estimated to affect one in a million people, but noted that the actual rate could be higher because the effects can be mild, and therefore more difficult to spot.

It can also impact a huge range of places on the body, 'from the very top of the head all the way down literally to the bottom of the feet'.

Featured Image Credit: Netflix

Topics: Stranger Things, TV and Film, Celebrity, Health

Emily Brown
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