Though the hit Netflix show has shot all of its child actors to incredible success, the 16-year-old actor says not much has changed when it comes to his relationship with costar Millie Bobby Brown.
“I think we both need each other because we’ve both had the same experience of breaking out to this whole celebrity world together from the same show,” McLaughlin tells PEOPLE exclusively. “We get each other.”
McLaughlin is particularly thankful to Brown, 14, for joining in his #EmbraceYourFace social media campaign, which he started to encourage people to love themselves and be their own biggest fans.
“I just love her for that,” he says. “It was great to push it out there so people can hear more about it. People really need to just love themselves because no one is teaching people that.”
McLaughlin says he was inspired to start the #EmbraceYourFace campaign on a “really bad acne day” while filming season 2 of Stranger Things. He said he had to put pimple cream on and kept it there during a trip to the supermarket with his mom.
“She noticed that I had pimple cream on my face and she was like, ‘Are you sure you want to go into the store with all that on your face?’ ” he says. “I was like, ‘Yeah, it’s the process.’ Teenagers go through these things. Be your own cheerleader because when no one else is your fan, you have to be your own fan. I just wanted to tell people that.”
“It’s not just Millie, it’s everyone on the show,” he says. “We all understand each other.”
McLaughlin says they’re all like “brothers and sisters,” and while they’re usually “loving each other” there can sometimes be “stupid arguments.”
“It’s like sibling arguments,” he explains. “Like remote control arguments.”
When asked about a report from The Hollywood Reporter, which detailed McLaughlin as getting a major pay raise of $250,000 an episode for season 3, he says he wants to keep that “between my parents and I.”
“I feel I stay grounded and humble because I know where I came from,” he says. “I will always know that. It all didn’t just happen out of nowhere. This can’t happen for everybody and I’m just blessed to be where I’m at right now.”
Though McLaughlin can’t share much about the new season, which started filming last week and will feature new cast member and Princess Bride alum Cary Elwes, he assures: “Everything’s great.”