Stranger Things' Gaten Matarazzo talks about his rare bone disorder and how it kept him from getting roles

Before Gaten Matarazzo landed the role of a lifetime as the loveable Dustin in Stranger Things, he struggled to get hired because of his rare bone disorder.

The 15-year-old has cleidocranial dysplasia or CCD, which affects his bone and teeth growth, and he has undergone two surgeries and four extractions for the condition so far.

“It’s one of the reasons why I haven’t been getting roles, because of my lisp, and the teeth situation, and my height,” Matarazzo explains on Wednesday’s episode of The Doctors. “That affected pretty much everything. I would go three times a week for auditions all the time and get constant ‘no.’ ”

But when he auditioned for Stranger Things, his condition drew positive attention for the first time due to his lack of collarbones.

“It really started out when I was stretching in the audition room,” Matarazzo says. “I was just [stretches] and they were like ‘Wait, wait, wait what did you just do?’ and I said, ‘What? I’m stretching’ and they said ‘No, do it again’s and they said ‘Why do you do that? Your shoulders are touching.’ … So I started explaining what it was and how I had a condition from birth that affects my teeth and everything. That’s why I was missing teeth in the first season, and I still have my appliance in right now.”

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In between hitting the awards show circuit for season 2 of Stranger Things and getting ready for season 3, Matarazzo is working with CCD Smiles, a non-profit organization that raises money and awareness for people with the condition.

“Right now what I am really trying to focus on is what I’m doing with Stranger Things, I mean it’s kind of taken up most of my time, and also I am doing what I can to see how I can make this organization grow and try and get this foundation out there,” he says.