updated 06/17/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 06/18/2014 AT 7:05 AM ET
Actors don’t often get the chance to revisit a character they played almost a decade ago, but that’s just what Kellan Lutz is doing on The Comeback, which is returning to HBO this fall – nine years after it last aired.
It’s given Lutz the chance to look back on what’s happened in his life since he got his big break playing actor Chris MacNess in 2005, and he says he sees some similarities in their journeys.
“He’s matured quite a bit. Much like myself, when I started in this industry I was just like a little puppy. I was really passionate about it and had no idea what I was doing,” Lutz told PEOPLE Monday at the Fragrance Foundation Awards in N.Y.C. “But throughout experience and years of working, you really start to feel really comfortable and I’ve been doing it a long time now and I ve really appreciated it.”
The Legend of Hercules and Twilight heartthrob, who also has a role in The Expendables 3 (in theaters Aug. 15), says that appreciating life is the key to finding happiness in a tough business.
“If you don’t learn to be happy where you are, you’ll never get to where you want to be,” is a motto that Lutz, 29, says he lives by.
“For people in L.A., they don’t see and appreciate what they do have,” he says. “I travel and I work for a lot of organizations around the world where they have the very minimum. If you don’t take yourself outside of your little box, or your little Pleasantville, and experience different cultures and societies to help you reflect on your current situation, you never will.”
According to Lutz, this philosophy can help when dealing with the rejection that can be part of an actor’s job.
“It’s a tough town in L.A. I have a lot of friends where it’s just ‘No, no, no, no.’ And you gotta be a strong person in what we do, in the industry and in any way, shape or form,” he says.
“You gotta find your own happiness. It can’t come from someone else you re dating, your profession, your job – it’s gotta come from the inside. If you love yourself and you’re happy with yourself it will take you to where you want to be.”