One on One with Gaten Matarazzo

One on One with Gaten Matarazzo

The Stranger Things star stops by the VMAN office to talk about Broadway vs. film, the charity he's passionate about, and what he's most excited for in Season 2.

The Stranger Things star stops by the VMAN office to talk about Broadway vs. film, the charity he's passionate about, and what he's most excited for in Season 2.

Photography: Raf Tillis

Text: Christina Cacouris

What are you really excited about for Season 2 of Stranger Things?

For it to come out so people can stop asking me what’s in it! [laughs] Everyone’s like—what’s it about? I’m not telling you! I can’t say anything! So I can’t wait for it to come out.

You were on Broadway at a very young age in Les Miserables; tell us about the differences between being on stage and being on film.

They’re so different. There’s pros and cons - when you’re on stage, the schedule is a lot rougher, because when you’re a kid, you wake up at 6 in the morning, go to school, get picked up, drive to New York for a two hour drive, get home at about 1.30 in the morning, and get up at 6 and do it all again. It was a rough schedule, but it was a routine; with film it’s a lot more unpredictable. At midnight, they’ll tell us “You gotta be in at 7 am." Of course, it’s a little more stressful when you’re onstage, because you’re performing for a live audience. There’s a tendency for a lot of actors onstage that they lose their spark, and they just go in and do it as a job and they don’t have that passion or feeling anymore. You have to be sure you’re always energetic and make every show like it’s your first, which is really hard. But that’s a con, I’d say, it’s very repetitive of course. With film, it changes up, your character evolves.

Do you think you’ll stick with film for now, or are you interested in going back to the stage?

It’s not really something you have to decide either or. I’m going to stick with both. Right now I’m gonna do film and TV just because the Broadway schedule when I’m doing school is so rough, I just want to focus on school. I’m going to wait until after I graduate.

How do you balance that with school?

I do it when we film. We do school throughout the day when we’re not on camera. So if we’re on set and we’re filming and they yell cut, when most of the actors go hang out, they tell us to go to the school room and study or do whatever we have to do. Once they need us back, we go back. You could get five hours of school a day or you could get an hour, it’s really unpredictable.

You have a really beautiful singing voice; do you have any plans to record songs of your own?

I don’t know! I don’t know if I could ever write music. I think it takes a certain determination, a certain focus, and I feel like my focus is elsewhere. I love music, I’m very passionate about it, and I want to learn how to play every instrument you could imagine. I want to learn how to record and express myself through music, but I don’t think my way of expressing myself is through writing. My sister is very passionate about music, and I think she’ll start writing her own. I hope my brother starts writing, he’s an expert drummer. He’s really doing a great job, he practices every day. It’s something he’s truly passionate about. I want to find that kind of passion that my brother has about his drums, but I don’t think music is where that passion lies.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Classic rock: Led Zeppelin, Rush, I also love Green Day, My Chemical Romance, Three Days Grace, Paramore—my sister loves Paramore. All three of us went to see Green Day with my dad, which was awesome; they put on one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. And of course, going to my roots which is theater, I love musical theater. My cousins, my brother, they all listen to rap—I’ve never been really into rap, but they’ve gotten me a little bit more involved in it and I’ve grown a respect for it that I didn’t really have before.

Tell me about CCD Smiles and the work you’re doing with them.

CCD smiles is an organization for cleidocranial dysplasia. What happens when you have this condition is you’re born without your collarbone, but there’s also other things that come with it, like dental problems. Your teeth don’t come in—they come in weirdly, baby teeth don’t fall out. Most of my teeth are baby teeth. What the organization is doing is raising money for people who can’t afford to fix their teeth, because usually there’s nothing you can do about the collarbone; you don’t need to have a collarbone, [which] I know because I don’t have either of them and I’m living just fine! But it’s really about helping fix teeth. It means a lot that I’m finally able to use this platform that I have because of the show and everything, being able to really help others rather than just help myself. I don’t want this to be a selfish thing. I want to make sure I can help other people.

Credits: ALL PHOTOGRAPHS BY RAF TILLIS

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