'Stranger Things' Star Caleb McLaughlin Talks 'Destiny' and Being Mean to Eleven

'Stranger Things' Star Caleb McLaughlin Talks 'Destiny' and Being Mean to Eleven

Caleb McLaughlin, who plays Lucas in 'Stranger Things,' is very clearly a huge game head Getty/Gabriel Olsen

The 15-year-old has opinions about his character's reception and is very much down to play 'D&D' in real life

The 15-year-old has opinions about his character's reception and is very much down to play 'D&D' in real life

Fifteen-year-old Caleb McLaughlin, who plays the skeptical, levelheaded Lucas in Stranger Things, is most probably a bigger Stranger Things nerd than you are. Caleb was a celebrity guest at Destiny 2's world premiere earlier this month, and during our chat, it was clear he has thoughts about his character – his actions, his reception, and, generally, how Lucas's canny cautiousness is partially responsible for many of the big things that transpired in the sleepy, psychically-fraught town of Hawkins, Indiana. Caleb is also, very clearly, a big game head, with a special affection for a particular M-rated game. Don't judge; he's earned it.

In a brief 10-minute chat, Caleb had a lot to say about his favorite games (Destiny, alas, is number three on his list), what it's like for a child from the Aughts to pretend to be someone from the Eighties, and those darn kids these days.

So I hear that you're a Destiny fan.
Yes. It's really good. There's so much more to do now – the new powers, the new, just new everything. But the thing I like about it is that they still have the same controls, so it's easy for me to connect with it. I was watching the game creators talk about Destiny 2 right before I was able to play, so I wasn't too lost.

Did you play a lot of Destiny 1?
Well, I'm pretty busy. I got it last year when I was acting and stuff. It's pretty hard to game sometimes. The weekend is the best time.

What's your character?
Well you know, I used to be a Titan. But guess what?

I accidentally deleted all of my applications on my PS4. So yeah.

Wow. How'd that happen?
I was making space for my new game, and I ended up deleting everything.

That sucks! So you had to start over?
Yeah. I wanted to be a Warlock or a Hunter this time.

What did you pick?
I picked Hunter.

A Hunter was my first character.
Yeah, I heard Hunter is the best one. Everyone loves Hunters.

I think the Warlocks are the coolest, although if you want to raid and actually be useful, I think Titans are the best.
That's what I liked about him. I was like, he can protect. When I was raiding, it's unstoppable. I was like, "I want to protect my friends".

Do you bring games with you when you're shooting Stranger Things?
I do. I do definitely take my games, because when it's a rainy day, what do you do? Do you just look at the sky? Of course, you read a book, because that helps you in life. But you play your video games.

In the show, Lucas and his friends play Dungeons & Dragons. Are you interested in playing that in real life?
Have I been interested in Dungeons & Dragons? Of course I have. I keep telling everyone that I need to play it, but I end up not playing it, and I really need to. I haven't found the time to play it. So I'm just going to find it.

You obviously weren't around in the '80s. How does it feel to live in that world and portray somebody from that era?
It was challenging, but it was pretty cool. My parents already told me some stuff about it, like what they grew up on – the music, the style. I had help from my parents. Also the directors, because they recommended us to watch certain movies, like E.T., Stand By Me… what else? Oh, Goonies. That definitely helped me. I just got into my character, read the description of Lucas. It was just, like, "Yeah. That's him. That's me".

You're like the rock in the Stranger Things friend group. In my mind, Lucas is the most courageous of them all.
Thank you! Yes. In the beginning, everyone kind of hated me because I was mean to Eleven. But I'm not the one – I didn't kill anyone. She broke people's necks and stuff. But I understand why, because they were trying to kill her. I'm just trying to help my friends. I'm trying to, "Oh, let's find Will," and stuff. Of course, the guy that's logical gets the blame.

It's true. How could someone not be skeptical in the situation?
Honestly, we probably would have never gotten close to the gate if it wasn't for Lucas.

You're right.
And the compass. I knew that she was messing with the compass. We would have never met Eleven if it wasn't for Lucas, either. Because remember, I was talking to Mike, and I was like, "Mike!" They were talking about how Will is crazy and stuff. I was like, "Yeah man. Meet me in 10." Then I'm like, "Over and out!" That's when we go out into the woods, and that's where we find her. But at the end, we apologized to each other. We're best friends now.

When you think about it, how would you act in real life if you saw that happening?
I feel like people were so stuck in fantasy land. They didn't think like, "Okay. We find a random person in the woods. Not just because her head was shaved. But that's one thing. The head was shaved. They had a hospital gown with blood. Wait, was it? No. Benny's Burgers shirt on, with blood on it. Then the killers, they slam doors with their mind. Blood runs down their nose, and she's like, "No." That's all you say? "No" and "yes"? That freaks me out.

I was in Lucas's shoes when I was watching. I'd be, like, "There's no way I would hang out with this person".
It took Lucas a while to really understand. Of course it would take a while, because she didn't talk at all! She didn't explain herself.

Kids these days, they know how to use every electronic now. I didn't have that. I played outside. That was my thing.

If you had to pick, what would you say is your favorite game of all time?
Favorite game of all time? I would say – I'm going to be honest with you. I'm not going to be like, "Destiny".

Yeah, be honest.
To be honest, GTA.


Do you play online?
Yeah, I play online. It's pretty cool. Destiny's like my third favorite. It's top three, so it would make it to the next round.

What's number two?
Two is NBA 2K.

Did you play a lot of games when you were a little kid?
I'm 15, so I didn't really have too many electronics. Kids these days, they know how to use every electronic now. I didn't have that. I played outside. That was my thing. I would go to playgrounds and parks and all that stuff.

Same here.
I didn't even get my phone until I was 10. The only reason why I got my phone when I was 10 is because I was acting. I was on Broadway. I wouldn't see my parents until after the show, so how would they get in contact with me? I needed a phone. Kids have phones at six years old. I'm like, "What is this world?"

This interview has been edited and condensed.