The 44-year-old actor spoke highly about Wright, 52, during PEOPLE, Entertainment Weekly & TNT’s Red Carpet Live at the 2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday.
“I have to put myself in her shoes as an actor,” Ali said of Wright’s nominations for the sixth and final season of the Netflix show after Kevin Spacey‘s departure. “I know for her it’s about the work, and the opportunity and responsibility to carry that show now that things have so significantly shifted on it.”
The Green Book star clarified that Wright “was always doing that work” on the show.
“She was always carrying her load, she was always extraordinary and had been nominated from the beginning,” he said. “Her nomination in no way is a result of Kevin’s departure — she was always doing some of the strongest work on the show, period.”
Wright was nominated for a SAG Award for the show for outstanding performance by a female actor in a drama series. She has been nominated for her portrayal a total of five times.
In November 2017, Netflix told PEOPLE in a statement that Spacey, 59, would no longer be involved in the show as it resumed production following multiple allegations of sexual assault against him.
The final season of the popular Netflix show killed off his character, Frank Underwood, and depicted his wife, Claire Underwood (Wright), taking power in the political drama.
In July 2018, Wright told Today she and Spacey were solely “coworkers.”
“I think we were all surprised, of course, and ultimately saddened,” Wright said of the allegations against Spacey. “We forged ahead and were so thankful that we were able to complete the series as planned.”
She added, “We were coworkers, really, we never socialized outside of work. He was never disrespectful to me. That’s my personal experience — that’s the only thing I feel that I have the right to talk about.”
The actor pled not guilty in a hearing earlier this month in his sexual assault case stemming from an alleged 2016 incident against an 18-year-old man on Nantucket Island.
Spacey was charged with felony indecent assault and battery in connection with the alleged July 2016 incident inside a Nantucket restaurant and bar where the actor allegedly touched an 18-year-old man’s genitals against his wishes, according to the police report, obtained by PEOPLE.
At a probable cause hearing in Nantucket District Court on Dec. 20, Spacey’s attorney said the accuser’s story had inconsistencies and even acted out the incident to illustrate his point, according to the audio of the hearing, which was first published by The Boston Globe.
In a statement to PEOPLE, Mitchell Garabedian, the civil attorney for the alleged victim, wrote, “By reporting the sexual assault, my client is a determined and encouraging voice for those victims not yet ready to report being sexually assaulted. My client is leading by example.”