The relationship between Joe Keery’s and Gaten Matarazzo’s Stranger Things characters has taken many forms, from babysitter and sittee to Demodog hunting partners. Somewhere between swapping dating tips and traversing the Upside Down, Steve (Keery) and Dustin (Matarazzo) emerged as the show’s best oddball duo. In real life, the friendship is even weirder. “He’s like the 60-year-old uncle that I never had,” Keery said at the show’s season-four premiere in Brooklyn on May 14. Some of the rawest scenes he’s had, Keery added, involved “bickering with Gaten — the kind of ‘What are you talking about?’ bickering. That feels very natural, and it’s something that comes very natural to both of us.”
Keery also credited the Duffer brothers, who co-created the series, for bringing his and Matarazzo’s off-screen dynamic onscreen. “That’s something the Duffers do that they’re really good at, is they’ll take little bits of our personalities and slowly incorporate them into the characters,” Keery said. “And that’s why I feel like they can get these authentic performances out of all of us.” In other words, every Steve and Dustin moment is a little rooted in reality, even though not many 60-year-old uncles get the opportunity to wield electric prods and rescue their incapacitated nephews from hidden Russian lairs. But stranger things have happened.