Filmmaker Woody Allen clarified his remarks about Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein made in an interview with the BBC.

“When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein, I thought it was clear the meaning was because he is a sad, sick man,” Allen said in a statement to Variety on Sunday night. “I was surprised it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings.”

In the BBC interview published Sunday morning, Allen was quoted as saying, “The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved. Tragic for the poor women that were involved, sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up.

“There’s no winners in that, it’s just very, very sad and tragic for those poor women that had to go through that.”

Allen also expressed hope that the sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape accusations against Weinstein would not lead to a “witch hunt atmosphere … where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself. That’s not right either.”

Critics of the director’s initial comments included actress Rose McGowan, one of the women accusing Weinstein of sexual assault, who described Allen as a “vile little worm.”

Allen, who like Weinstein is Jewish, in the early 1990s was accused of abusing his daughter, Dylan Farrow, during a custody battle shortly after the end of his relationship with his then-partner, Mia Farrow. She ended her relationship with Allen after learning of his affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn, whom Allen married in 1997. The allegations were revived in 2013, when Dylan was 28.

Allen has long denied the abuse allegations.

Weinstein helped to revive Allen’s career after the alleged sex abuse came to light, producing several of Allen’s films, including the Academy Award-winning “Mighty Aphrodite.”

The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, which awards the Oscars, expelled Weinstein on Saturday in an emergency meeting. It was the first time in the body’s 90-year history that it has ousted a member for unethical or potentially criminal behaviour.