Gaten Matarazzo (Stranger Things, Les Miserables: The Broadway Musical), the 17-year-old actor behind Stranger Things‘s Dustin Henderson, has reportedly begun work as a food runner alongside family members in Long Beach Island, New Jersey. According to US Magazine, Matarazzo’s summer job started this August, 5 months after Netflix suspended production of Stranger Things’ highly-anticipated season 4 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In February, Netflix released a buzz-worthy teaser trailer for the science fiction hit’s fourth season that revealed David Harbour (Stranger Things, Hellboy) was to reprise his role as Sheriff Jim Hopper. A month after that teaser dropped, the cast of Stranger Things returned to their production home-base of Atlanta, Georgia to begin work on season 4. In a short video posted to Netflix’s YouTube channel on March 3, Matarazzo and his castmates can be seen reuniting for a table-read. On March 13, just 10 days after that table-read video, production came to a halt in response to the COVID-19 crisis, via US Magazine.
After only a few weeks in Atlanta, the Stranger Things cast and crew dispersed to their various hometowns while they awaited news on season 4. For Matarazzo, this meant a return to his family in New Jersey. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, one of Matarazzo’s reps reported that the Dustin Henderson actor took a job as a food runner at a local Long Beach Island restaurant as a way to “pass the time” until season 4 production resumed.
As an essential food service employee, Matarazzo’s required to wear a face mask as part of his job, but it has not stopped some New Jersey diners from putting the pieces together. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “[Matarazzo] did get noticed by some eagle-eyed diners despite the fact that he was incognito in a hat with the majority of his face covered by cloth mask.”
According Philly Voice, Matarazzo lives and attends public high school in Ocean County, New Jersey when he’s not busy on the set of Stranger Things. Despite starring in one of the most popular show’s on Netflix – with 64 million viewers during the first four weeks of season three alone, via The Hollywood Reporter – Matarazzo maintains a normal teenage life as best he can. Food running at a local eatery is further evidence of the actor’s tendency to lead a normal existence off-set.
The wide-sweeping production shutdowns suffered by many shows at the beginning of the year have started to rebound, with many shows returning to film this August. Though there has yet to be an official update about season 4’s production, Stranger Things might not be far behind. An article published by The Hollywood Reporter in late July indicated that the Netflix hit could see a September return.
The possibility of a September return could mean that Matarazzo’s time in the food service industry comes to a quick end off-screen. Dustin Henderson, Matarazzo’s character, proved fond of hanging around ice-cream parlor employees Steve Harrington and Robin Buckley in the Stranger Thing’s third season, as evidenced by this post on Maya Hawke’s (Stranger Things) Instagram. Art could, perhaps, imitate life if Dustin were to score a summer job akin to Matarazzo’s own at some point in the show’s future.
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Image credit: Raymond Flotat