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Caleb McLaughlin is stepping back into the ’80s — only this time he’s doing it in BET’s
The six-hour event series sees McLaughlin — who played Lucas on Netflix’s summer hit
— step into the role of Ricky Bell, one of the six members of the iconic ’80s boy band, during his teen years.
“It’s cool to play a smooth, cool character. He’s very smart, very laid back. Nothing bothered him,” McLaughlin tells EW of taking on the role. “[But] it’s Ricky before he became confident in himself.”
Of course, playing a young Ricky Bell requires a lot of singing — evidenced by the exclusive clip above — as the group began touring to promote their first album,
. So McLaughlin needed to find (and channel) that same feeling in himself.
“Singing is always fun to do. But when I sing, I really mean it,” says McLaughlin of the nerve-wracking experience. “So instead of worrying about the cameras around me and what people think, I had to really get into a place of being Ricky and singing like him.”
“He was a mentor,” says McLaughlin of their relationship. “Not just because of his character, [but] just the way life is in the business and how to be smart and do the right things. I still keep in contact with him now.”
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