‘Stranger Things’ Star Leaves Show While Production Stalls

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The young cast of 'Stranger Things' - L to R: Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Maya Hawke (Robin Buckley), Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield), and Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair) staring in shock

Credit: Netflix

One of the stars of Netflix’s titanically popular thriller series Stranger Things is leaving his current gig.

Dustin Henderson (Gaten Matarazzo) sitting on his bed in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Gaten Matarazzo has played Dustin Henderson, an affable Dungeons & Dragons player with cleidocranial dysplasia, since the first season of the show. He quickly became a fan-favorite character for his goofy wit, deep knowledge of D&D, and unapologetically nerdy enthusiasm.

Over the course of the show, Gaten Matarazzo has become an increasingly important part of Stranger Things, with his brief adoption of a juvenile interdimensional monster and his science camp girlfriend being critical elements of recent seasons. His character also formed bonds with older teens like Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) and Eddie Munson (Joseph Quinn), which became critically acclaimed parts of the supernatural coming-of-age series.

Steve (Joe Keery) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) walking together in Stranger Things
Credit: Netflix

Related: ‘Stranger Things’ Confirms Indefinite Pause, Final Season in Jeopardy

‘Stranger Things’ Broadway Crossover

Before he starred as a Dungeons & Dragons enthusiast, however, Gaten Matarazzo began his career on Broadway, starring in productions of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and Les Misérables. More recently, the Stranger Things actor has been starring in a revival of the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical Sweeney Todd alongside Josh Groban and Annaleigh Ashford.

Gaten Matarazzo as Toby in Sweeney Todd
Credit: Matthew Murphy and Evan Zimmerman

Gaten Matarazzo is currently portraying Tobias “Toby” Ragg, a key supporting character in the musical. Sweeney Todd is one of legendary composer Stephen Sondheim’s most beloved musicals (based on a play by Christopher Bond, which itself utilizes the pre-existing character of Todd) and has been revived many times in both New York and London. In 2007, it was adapted into a feature film by director Tim Burton starring Johnny Depp, Helena Bonham Carter, and Alan Rickman.

Matarazzo has announced that his final performance as Toby will be on November 5 (per Playbill), leaving him without a starring series until whenever Stranger Things returns, which may be years.

The Future of ‘Stranger Things’

While actors Millie Bobby Brown and David Harbour have expressed enthusiasm for Stranger Things to end with its upcoming fifth season, Gaten Matarazzo has been somewhat more cautious.

Mike (Finn Wolfhard) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) with surprised expression at school
Credit: Netflix

In an interview on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the actor said, “It’s interesting to constantly just be reminded how much people have resonated with it. I mean, it’s something that’s so important to all of us and has just been essential to the growth that I’ve had over all of my teenage years into my 20s. It’s the defining aspect of the past 10 years of my life, practically the past decade.”

Related: Netflix Places Restrictions, Changes Bingeing for ‘Stranger Things’

It’s certainly fair to say that a show that made you a global name while still a child would be defining. Matarazzo continued, “There’s kind of an excitement there, ’cause you always want to wrap it up and see how these characters are going to finally develop one last time, and how they’re going to finish their journeys. But also there’s like a deep fear. Not only has it been amazing, but it’s been pretty great job security for a while. Back to freelance.”

Max and Dustin looking into the Upside Down in 'Stranger Things' Season 4
Credit: Netflix

At the very least, it seems that he can get more work on Broadway after Stranger Things ends.

Will Stranger Things stick the landing and have a successful fifth season? Give us some thoughts in the comments below!

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