NEWS · Jun 04, 2024

The runaway success of Stranger Things on Netflix led to a renegotiation of salaries for the young cast. This wasn't a solo effort, though. On Michael Rosenbaum's podcast "Inside of You," Gaten Matarazzo (now 21) revealed the key role his parents, and the parents of his fellow child actors, played in securing a raise for everyone.

"Sure, everyone probably has their own specific goals for the future," Matarazzo acknowledged, "but it was a very united effort."

Since most of the main cast were minors at the time, Matarazzo explained how their parents stepped in to handle the negotiations.

"We're all incredibly grateful," he said. "It's interesting to think back on how all our parents were working together, figuring out what would be the best outcome for everyone involved, especially since they were the ones handling the negotiations until we turned 18."

Stranger Things, which premiered in 2016, transported us to the heart of Hawkins, Indiana, a town shrouded in supernatural mysteries. The show propelled its young stars, including Matarazzo, Brown, Wolfhard, Schnapp, McLaughlin, Dyer, Heaton, and Keery, to instant fame.

As the show soared in popularity, Season 3 brought whispers of salary adjustments for the cast, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Reportedly, veterans Winona Ryder and David Harbour secured $350,000 per episode, while the younger cast (excluding Brown) saw a bump to $250,000. Meanwhile, the teen actors, Dyer, Keery, and Heaton, landed at $150,000 per episode. Interestingly, Brown, 20, was notably absent from the list, as she reportedly negotiated her deal separately from the rest of the younger cast.

Even with a final season on the horizon, Gaten Matarazzo admits the world of salary negotiations remains a mystery. "Honestly, even now, it's all a bit over our heads," he jokes. "We're basically college-aged kids at heart, surviving on Ramen and Oreos – that part hasn't changed!"

Matarazzo acknowledges the valuable role his parents played, especially considering their united front during negotiations. "There's a lot we're still learning on the fly," he says. "There's still so much we learn from our parents day by day. So it's really good that they were collectively close and could discuss what would be best for all of us moving forward."

On a recent podcast, Gaten Matarazzo reflected on Stranger Things' profound impact on his life, particularly financially. "The show provided a level of financial security that my family and I never dreamed of," he shared. "Growing up, money was a constant concern, and suddenly, it wasn't. As a kid, it's hard to fully grasp the enormity of that change."

Matarazzo acknowledged the strange reality of becoming the family breadwinner at a young age. "Being a 12-year-old 'breadwinner' isn't exactly normal," he admitted. However, his gratitude for the opportunities Stranger Things opened is undeniable.

"Acting careers are full of ups and downs," he said realistically. "Stranger Things will likely be the biggest thing I ever do, and I'm comfortable with that. It'll probably be my defining role, even if I continue to act for years to come."

Matarazzo concluded with a positive outlook: "As long as this leads to happiness, security, and more opportunities, I'm perfectly content. Chasing fame for its own sake isn't something I'm particularly interested in."

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