Woody Allen has clarified his comments on Harvey Weinstein, after stating that he was “sad” for the disgraced, Hollywood mogul.

The 81-year-old film-maker told Variety that he was “surprised” by the way his remark had been interpreted.

The director had told the BBC: “The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved.

63rd Cannes Film Festival – You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger PhotocallWoody Allen (Ian West/PA)

“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.”

He later told Variety:  “When I said I felt sad for Harvey Weinstein I thought it was clear, the meaning was because he is a sad, sick man.

“I was surprised it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings.”

Allen had told the BBC he hoped the revelations would lead to “some amelioration”, but added: “You also don’t want it to lead to a witch-hunt atmosphere, a Salem 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.

Woody Allen filming – LondonWoody Allen (Ian West/PA)

“But sure, you hope that something like this could be transformed into a benefit for people rather than just a sad or tragic situation.”

Weinstein has been credited with reviving Allen’s career after the director was accused of abusing Dylan Farrow, his daughter with actress Mia Farrow.

Allen has always vehemently denied the claims.

The allegation against Allen emerged in the early 1990s after the director separated from Farrow when she discovered he was having an affair with her adopted daughter, Soon-Yi Previn.

63rd Cannes Film Festival – You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger ScreeningWoody Allen and his wife Soon-Yi (Fiona Hanson/PA)

But despite working closely with Weinstein on a number of projects, Allen said he had never heard any allegations of rape and sexual assault.

“No-one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness.

“And they wouldn’t, because you are not interested in it. You are interested in making your movie,” he told the BBC.

“But you do hear a million fanciful rumours all the time. And some turn out to be true and some – many – are just stories about this actress, or that actor.”

Allen’s son, Ronan Farrow, brother of Dylan, was among the journalists who investigated Weinstein, penning a piece in The New Yorker in which three women alleged he raped them.

Weinstein has strongly denied any non-consensual sex.