Stranger Things star Gaten Matarazzo says a so far three-month pause from Season 4 filming could extend into the fall after Netflix in mid-March shut down all productions amid the coronavirus pandemic. Initially ordering a two-week break, the streaming giant paused production citing "government restrictions and health/safety precautions" as part of industry-wide shutdowns that have left the cast and crew of the Duffer Brothers-created series in limbo. The 17-year-old actor, who plays now 14-year-old Dustin Henderson in the hit series, says he could resume filming in Atlanta, Georgia, sometime after celebrating his 18th birthday in September.
"Work is on pause," Matarazzo said while virtually attending GalaxyCon Live. "We were in the middle of filming [Season] 4 and then they said, 'Nope!' They said two-week break, and we've been gone for three months."
Currently home in New Jersey, Matarazzo is "antsy" to resume work on Stranger Things 4, which initiated filming in February.
"When it comes to being a part of the show in general, it has me being away from home for a very long time. Due to the pandemic I've been home for quite a bit and getting to relax here," Matarazzo said. "I've been kind of getting antsy trying to get back into work, just because we've been [away] for a very long time. We're usually in Atlanta filming for seven, eight months, and so it takes a while, it's more than half the year where I'm away."
By the time he returns to work, Matarazzo could be an 18-year-old high school graduate able to work without restrictions: starting September 8, he'll no longer be bound by child actor laws that limit the number of hours a minor performer can spend on set.
"I am so excited to finally get to experience filming the show without dealing with school. I always love filming the show anyway and I always made sure that school was the number one priority … but now, especially because I'm about to be 18, there are no more rules [for filming]," Matarazzo said. "By the time I go back to filming, I turn 18 in the beginning of September … and at that point, because of the pandemic, we might not be back into filming. So I'll be 18 and they can keep me as long as they need me without any time caps."
Late last month, Georgia unveiled new coronavirus guidelines that could allow work to soon resume on Stranger Things and other productions that film in the state. This includes the use of appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, limiting contact between crew members, and frequent mandatory hand washing.
The first three seasons of Stranger Things are available for streaming on Netflix. Stranger Things 4 has not announced a release date.