By Nivea Serrao
December 08, 2016 at 09:42 PM EST
David Bornfriend/A24

Mahershala Ali can command a room.

It’s something the actor has had to do both as his character on Netflix’s Luke Cagevillain Cornell “Cottonmouth’ Stokes — and in Barry Jenkins’ new film, Moonlight.

But according to Ali, that’s something he’s had to learn how to do over the course of his career.

“You get parts that inform you [of] your weaknesses,” Ali tells Entertainment Weekly: The Show host Ricky Camilleri. “At a certain point in my career, I was probably having a difficult time ‘holding space.’ So you get a character that has to be commanding in order for him to resonate and make sense.”

He continues: “I got this character on this Syfy show called Alphas years ago… Then that led me to Remy [on House of Cards], who was another character who had to fill a room in a certain way. And so, that quality is something that I’ve had to take on in other characters.”

Watch the full episode of Entertainment Weekly: The Show, streaming now on People/Entertainment Weekly Network (PEN). Go to PEOPLE.com/PEN, or download the app for Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xumo, Chromecast, Xfinity, iOS and Android devices.

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