'Stranger Things' Gaten Matarazzo on Expanding into Film and Graduating High School During COVID (Exclusive)

The 19-year-old actor appears opposite Christopher Mintz-Plasse and Angourie Rice in the new Paramount+ feature.

Gaten Matarazzo is branching out! After breaking big in TV and on Broadway, the Stranger Things actor is set to star in his first feature film, Honor Society, streaming Friday on Paramount+.

Starring opposite Angourie Rice and Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Matarazzo plays Michael, a high school student who finds himself targeted by a classmate (Rice) who is determined to sabotage his chances at a coveted college recommendation. In a classic rom-com twist, of course -- romance ensues. 

"I have been trying to expand, more than anything," Matarazzo tells ET's Will Marfuggi of his role selection. "Michael really does feel like the polar opposite of what I usually play."

Matarazzo achieved mainstream success in 2016 in his debut as lovable nerd Dustin Henderson in Netflix's Stranger Things. Growing up on set and in the spotlight, the 19-year-old actor still managed to attend and graduate from his local public high school in 2020. Going back to high school, even in the fictional sense, gave him an opportunity to relive some moments lost during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"That was bananas for me, at the end of it," he says of his graduating year. "But I'm just really glad that I was able to have as normal of a situation as I think I could’ve, while still going back and forth between the set of Stranger Things -- which was primarily what was taking up most of my time -- and my school was really good in making sure I was able to do their work while I was away."

"I was able to keep it as normal as possible," he adds. 

Matarazzo will head back to Hawkins for the fifth season of Stranger Things, which he's looking forward to experiencing sooner rather than later after the lengthy delays of season four. 

"I like to see what they're coming up with, I like to see what the writers have in store," he says. "I like to know when we're getting back into it and I'm just glad that they're so open to us working outside the show [during hiatus], which has helped a lot. That's why I get to be promoting this film now." 

The actor shared many scenes last season with Stranger Things newcomer Joseph Quinn, who played scene-stealer Eddie Munson. Asked about the drama between Doja Cat, Quinn and Noah Schnapp, he had nothing but love. 

"That would be incredible for both of them," he muses of a potential love connection. Schnapp previously started a feud by publicly sharing private direct messages from Doja Cat, in which she admitted to having a crush on Quinn. She's since publicly acknowledged her feelings about him many times on social media. 

"Best wishes to them both," Matarazzo adds, noting that more fans approach him to ask about the GRAMMY winner than his show. "I'm like, 'I don't know! It's not like I'm there.'" 

For more on the Stranger Things cast, watch below. 


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