Stranger Things: Gaten Matarazzo Talks S04 Difference, Offers Update

So the last time we checked in on how production on the fourth season of Netflix and the Duffer Bros.' Stranger Things was going, it was just before the start of the new year, and the streaming service was assuring everyone that the season was still in production. Considering how the year wrapped for the pandemic shutdown-plagued production, there really was every reason to be optimistic. In October, we learned that production was back underway, and then "Stranger Things Day" brought a ton of previews- from an introduction to the logo and look of the Hellfire Club (tying into the season-opening episode's title, a friendly nod to 80's X-Men comics) and Gaten Matarazzo's Dustin sporting the club's colors before wrapping himself up in them to four images of the Stranger Things cast on the set (with masks and safety protocols in place). Then just before Thanksgiving, there was major casting news dropped that threw a ton more gasoline on our dumpster fires of speculation (more on that below).

Stranger Things shared a look at the logo for The Hellfire Club in season 4 (Image: Netflix)
Stranger Things shared a look at the logo for The Hellfire Club in season 4 (Image: Netflix)

But that as last year- this year? Things have been oddly quiet for some time now- at least until today, with Matarazzo offering a production update to Collider while promoting his Netflix prank series Prank Encounters. For those of you who remember back to the dark days of 2020, when the Duffer Bros. revealed that the pandemic delays allowed them to write all of the season's scripts ahead of time- a first for the series, with the Duffer Bros. usually finishing scripts in the middle of a season's production. "This year, because of COVID, there's no excuse for them not to have the [season] written completely," Matarazzo explained. "When we went in for our first table read which was February of 2020 we expected to go right into filming and it was gonna be the same situation, they were gonna start with episodes all the way up through 5 and we were probably gonna do the same hiatus, but COVID hit and we only had like six episodes and so they were like, 'we might as well finish.'"

As for a time frame for the production on Stranger Things to wrap or for when the new season will hit streaming screens, Matarazzo admits that it's tough to predict because of how loose and flexible filming needs to be due to COVID protocols. "There's very few dates that are reliable. It really is more of a guesstimation on when we're gonna be filming next, when we're gonna be wrapping up, when release is gonna be, all that jazz because we still don't know on day-to-day if we're gonna be filming next week," the actor explained. "I should be filming like next month for a bigger chunk than I've had in a bit, but even though it's coming up in about two weeks from now, I still don't know an exact date. So because of that, there's really no way to figure out when we're gonna be wrapping."

And as much as the actors are benefitting by having the season's storylines mapped out ahead of filming, Matarazzo believes it's Matt Duffer and Ross Duffer's directing sides that will benefit the most from it. "I think they've been able to relish in directing in their day-to-day. There's nothing else distracting them other than what we're gonna do today while we're directing, and I asked them, 'Do you guys sleep at night?' they're like, 'Literally we dream about directing this show. We go to sleep and we have dreams that we're just directing this show,' it takes up their entire minds when they're making this," the actor explained. "So I think it's a good thing because now they can take their focus off of what the show is going to be about, and now that they know it, they can focus on how they're going to deliver. And I think it shows."

Stranger Things 4 | From Russia with love… | Netflix
Stranger Things 4 | From Russia with love… | Netflix

Last month, we learned that Jamie Campbell Bower (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Sweeney Todd), Eduardo Franco (Booksmart, The Binge), and Joseph Quinn (Catherine the Great, Howards End) are joining the cast as series regulars. Tom Wlaschiha (Game of Thrones), Sherman Augustus (Into the Badlands, Westworld), Mason Dye (Bosch, The Goldbergs), Nikola Djuricko (Genius, In The Land of Blood and Honey), and Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street Franchise, V) are joining the season in recurring roles. In addition, Brett Gelman's Murray Bauman has been promoted to series regular.

With a fourth season that finds "a new horror is beginning to surface, something long-buried, something that connects everything," here's a look at who's playing who- offering clues to not just where our heroes stand since we last saw them but also to where the action will be taking place this season (including a psychiatric hospital). Bower plays Peter Ballard, a caring man who works as an orderly at the psychiatric hospital. Tired of the brutality he witnesses day after day, Peter feels compelled to take a stand- but will he? Englund's Victor Creel is a disturbed and intimidating man who is imprisoned in a psychiatric hospital for a gruesome murder in the 1950s. As for what's going on with Hopper (David Harbour) over in Russia, Wlaschiha's Dmitri is a Russian prison guard who befriends Hopper: smart, cunning, and charming- but can he be trusted? Djuricko's Yuri is a seedy and unpredictable Russian smuggler who loves bad jokes, cold hard cash, and crunchy style peanut butter.

Quinn's Eddie Munson is an audacious 80's metalhead who runs The Hellfire Club, Hawkins High's official D&D club. Hated by those who don't understand him — and beloved by those who do — Eddie will find himself at the terrifying epicenter of this season's mystery. Meanwhile, Franco's Argyle is a fun-loving stoner who proudly delivers delicious pizza pies for Surfer Boy Pizza- and Jonathan's (Charlie Heaton) new best friend. Augustus' Lt. Colonel Sullivan is an intelligent, no-nonsense man who believes he knows how to stop the evil in Hawkins once and for all (uh-oh), while Dye's Jason Carver is living the life of the handsome, rich, sports star who's dating the most popular girl in school. That is until a new evil threatening Hawkins turns everyone's world upside down.

About Ray Flook

Serving as Television Editor since 2018, Ray began five years earlier as a contributing writer/photographer before being brought onto the core BC team in 2017.