"When you're a cute kid and maybe have some natural talent, it seems quite easy," Peck tells PEOPLE says of his chosen career. "But this takes an incredible amount of work"

By Patrick Gomez
Updated October 14, 2015 02:15 PM
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If Josh Peck has any regrets, being a child star is not one of them.

“I was just totally in love with coming to work every day,” the Grandfathered star says in the current issue of PEOPLE of booking a role in the Nickelodeon film Snow Day at age 12.

After the film was released in 2000, Peck joined the cast of Nickelodeon’s The Amanda Show and then, at 17, co-headlined smash-hit sitcom Drake & Josh.

Though he was exposed to Hollywood success at such a young age, Peck credits mother, Barbara, for keeping him grounded.

“My mom doesn’t play,” says the 28-year-old. “Even now, if I say something remotely fresh, she’ll still call me on it.”

When Drake & Josh ended after four seasons in 2007, Peck was “eager to be challenged in a different way.” He tried a community college class but ultimately decided to continue acting.

He did voiceover work in three Ice Age sequels, bypassed the studio “gatekeepers” by producing his own content and amassing 8.8 million followers on the social media app Vine, worked opposite Ben Kingsley in 2008’s The Wackness and appeared alongside Al Pacino in Danny Collins and Kevin Hart in The Wedding Ringer earlier this year.

Now he’s starring with John Stamos on Grandfathered

“It’s a dream,” Peck says of working on the Fox sitcom. “John is so generous with his years of knowledge about this business. He tells me to always be ‘classic.’ ”

Peck has seen a lot of his former child actors fade from the spotlight, and he’s grateful he was provided with the tools to make it out the other side still acting.

“When you’re a cute kid and maybe have some natural talent, it seems quite easy,” he says of his chosen career. “But this takes an incredible amount of work and focus and dedication. You have to weather the times when you’re not working. There’s a lot of rejection. I understood that early on. I never let any of that deter me from my main focus – my passion.”

For more from Josh Peck – including his transformation from "awkward" teen to leading man – pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

RELATED VIDEO: John Stamos Goes from Sexy Uncle to Sexiest Grandfather Alive in New TV Show

Grandfathered

airs Tuesdays (8 p.m. ET) on Fox.