05/28/2010 AT 8:00 PM ET
Jamie Kennedy says Gary Coleman was more than just a sitcom star: He inspired the comedian to get into showbiz – and also taught him to never take anything for granted.
While working on the 1999 film Bowfinger at the beginning of his career, Kennedy recalls meeting Coleman, whom he describes as a “pop icon,” in one of the most unexpected places in Hollywood.
“We were filming in downtown Los Angeles and I pulled up to the [set] and looked over and saw this security guard. It was a little guy,” Kennedy, 40, tells PEOPLE.