Gaten Matarazzo Recalls 'Uncomfortable' Encounter With 'Stranger Things' Fan In Her 40s

Gaten Matarazzo endeared himself to audiences of all ages as Dustin on “Stranger Things,” but the actor says the cross-generational appeal of the period 1980s horror series has led to a number of awkward fan interactions.

Appearing on this week’s episode of the “Inside of You” podcast, Matarazzo, 21, recalled a few “uncomfortable” moments with “Stranger Things” viewers, including a recent encounter with a middle-aged mom and her teen daughter.

“I did [an event] very recently — and this is not very funny, but the reactions around it were quite funny — where this woman in her 40s said straight up, ‘I’ve had a crush on you since you were 13,’” he said. “And I was like, ‘That’s upsetting.’ I’m sure she just meant, ‘Aw, this kid’s cute.’ But then she doubled down.”

He went on to note: “She was like, ‘I’m aware of the age difference.’ And then I was like, ‘Alright.’” And her daughter was with her, and her daughter goes, ‘Mom, what the fuck?’ I swear to God.”

Matarazzo isn’t the only “Stranger Things” cast member to address the questionable treatment he’s received from some of the show’s viewers.

Gaten Matarazzo, now 21, rose to fame as one of the young stars of
Gaten Matarazzo, now 21, rose to fame as one of the young stars of "Stranger Things" in 2016. Andrew Toth via Getty Images

In 2020, Matarazzo’s co-star, Millie Bobby Brown, opened up about being subjected to “inappropriate comments, sexualization, and unnecessary insults” after gaining recognition for her performance as Eleven on the show.

The British actor, however, said she was undaunted, reassuring fans on Instagram that she’d “always find a way to smile.”

Since the 2016 premiere of “Stranger Things,” Matarazzo has also developed his Broadway career, appearing in the musicals “Dear Evan Hansen” and “Sweeney Todd.”

Elsewhere in his “Inside of You” interview, he acknowledged he’s “had a few butt grabs for sure” when encountering “Stranger Things” fans at in-person events. Still, he said he has nothing but gratitude for his role on the series, which is expected to return to Netflix for its fifth and final season next year.

“It is quite clear, and I am very well aware — and would like my professional team to understand — that I am very OK with ‘Stranger Things’ being very likely the biggest thing I will ever do,” he said. “And I am so cool with that as long as it facilitates happiness going forward, security and more work going forward.”

Listen to Gaten Matarazzo’s “Inside of You” interview below. (His comments on fan encounters begin around the 59:44 mark.)