The director of Anton Yelchin‘s 2011 film Like Crazy is remembering the late actor for his unique personality that he brought to his work on camera.
“He’d make you laugh one second and two minutes later he’d make you cry,” Drake Doremus tells PEOPLE. “That happened all the time on set. We’d be goofing around and all of a sudden we’d jump into a scene and he’d be so emotional and so honest. There was just no bulls—. He wasn’t really an actor in that sense, just a human being.”
Doremus recalls wanting to work with Yelchin immediately after they first met. After seeing Yelchin’s work and hearing about the emerging actor, the pair met for coffee.
“In what was supposed to be a quick meet-and-greet to see if we dug each other, turned into a two-and-a-half, three-hour coffee session,” the director says.
“I just remember his energy. He had so much of it,” he continues. “I’d never met anybody like him. He was so unique, and I couldn’t even put my finger on what it was. He was like an onion, so many layers to him, deep and interesting.”
“He was the linchpin between the two ladies,” Doremus says. “Both are these powerful women in their own ways, and it took someone like him who could delicately balance the two of them. Nobody else could have done it.”
VIDEO: Costars and Other Celebs Remember Star Trek Actor Anton Yelchin
Doremus says that working with Yelchin was a life-changing moment for him.
“I know for Jen and Felicity as well, it was just that place and time in your life where you kind of know what you’re doing is special,” he explains. “Even though it’s really tiny. When you’re doing it, you get the sense that something magical is happening. There’s that little angel on our shoulder. With him you always felt that. You always felt he brought that magic fairy dust in the air.”
For more on Yelchin’s fascinating life and tragic death, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Yelchin’s body was found Sunday pinned between the car and the gate of his home in Studio City, California, after the 27-year-old’s vehicle rolled backward down the steep driveway, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson tells PEOPLE.
The spokesperson says the car was a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee the same model that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles recalled in April after the vehicle was investigated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for its gearshift design. Authorities are investigating whether the design didn’t adequately alert drivers as to whether the car was in “park” or “neutral” mode.
The actor’s death was officially ruled an accident on Tuesday. Yelchin died of accidental “blunt traumatic asphyxia,” Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County coroner’s office confirms to PEOPLE.
• Reporting by MARY GREEN