They are about to return for another season of fighting terrifying monsters on the hit science fiction thriller Stranger Things, but some of the young cast members believe they have an even bigger challenge ahead of them in the real world.

Sadie Sink, 17, Caleb McLaughlin, 17, Gaten Matarazzo, 16, and Noah Schnapp, 14, are four of the lead actors in the spooky 80s-set series.

Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo at the Netflix 'Stranger Things 3 Summer Festival' in Tokyo this week. Picture: Kazuhiko Okuno
Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo at the Netflix 'Stranger Things 3 Summer Festival' in Tokyo this week. Picture: Kazuhiko Okuno

In Tokyo to promote the third season of the show, it's obvious to see how popular they have become since first appearing on our screens in 2016 (Sink joined the cast in season two). Crowds have flocked to see them and the red carpet has been rolled out wherever they venture.

But while it's all smiles and jokes about the Upside Down - an alternate universe which was accidentally opened during secret government testing in the fictional town of Hawkins - the show is almost a metaphor for the world today, with older generations leaving the planet in ruins by their actions.

The state of the environment and the world in general is of great concern to these young actors. But they are determined to tackle the issues head on.

"What's amazing about this generation is I feel like everyone our age is so involved in what's happening in our world, which I feel is different from the 80s," Sink tells Insider.

Matarazzo, who plays Dustin Henderson in the series, hears a lot of noise from older generations about the state of the world, but isn't overly impressed with their record of actually doing something about it.

"There's a lot of talking about protecting the environment, there's a lot of talking about making a better world, I just don't see a lot of action," he says. "I think it's less of a confidence (that my generation can turn it around) and more of a need. We need to make sure we fix it."

For years the responsibility for halting the decline of the planet has been handballed from one generation to the next, Matarazzon says, but is finally at the point where there is neither the time or luxury to do the same.

"The thing is it's always been 'we don't have to worry about it, the next generation's going to worry about it, we'll leave it to them'," he says. "Then all of a sudden we are that generation where we need to worry about this.

"We can't just throw it on to the next generation so it's up to us."

With such a huge global audience, the young actors are in a unique position to be true influencers.

When you include co-stars Millie Bobbie Brown and Finn Wolfhard, this group of teenagers has an Instagram following of almost 60 million.

Despite their age, they understand there is a certain level of responsibility that comes with such a big fan base.

Audiences have seen the young cast members grow over the past few years.
Audiences have seen the young cast members grow over the past few years.

"When you have such a large platform that the show has given us I think everyone feels a sense of responsibility to use it to use it to support whatever causes we want," Sink says.

"I think everyone here has done a good job of doing that.
I still get a little nervous whenever I post something because I'm not used to having that many people on social media."

Having watched these kids grow up over the past few years on the show, it's sometimes easy to forget how new they are to all this fame.

McLaughlin, who plays Lucas Sinclair, says this rapid rise has two sides to it - both of them good.

"My life has changed a lot and it hasn't changed at all at the same time," he says. "After the show came out my life, my followers jumped to millions and it was like 'who would have thought' and now I use my platform to speak for what I believe in."

This includes a campaign he started online to encourage self-love using the hashtags #EmbraceYourFace and #BeYourBiggestFan.

But for all the significant change, McLaughlin says many things have stayed the same.

"I still have the same friends and I still do the same things and I still go to school and it's nice because I still get to live the life I did but now there's a whole other world," he says.

* Stranger Things season 3 drops Thursday on Netflix



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