Woody Allen broke his silence on the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal over the weekend, telling the BBC, “The whole Harvey Weinstein thing is very sad for everybody involved.” His comments received backlash for seemingly defending Weinstein, or at least for sympathizing with him (“It’s sad for Harvey that his life is so messed up,” Allen said), but the “Wonder Wheel” director has clarified his remarks in a new statement made exclusively to 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,” Allen’s statement reads. “I was surprised it was treated differently. Lest there be any ambiguity, this statement clarifies my intention and feelings.”
Another part of Allen’s original statement that received criticism was his comparison of the Weinstein scandal to the Salem Witch Trials. “You 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,” Allen said. “That’s not right either. But sure, you hope that something like this could be transformed into a benefit for people rather than just a sad or tragic situation.”
Allen has worked with Weinstein in the past but says he never saw his behavior firsthand. “No one ever came to me or told me horror stories with any real seriousness,” he said. “But you do hear a million fanciful rumors all the time. And some turn out to be true and some — many — are just stories about this actress, or that actor.”
Allen himself has been accused of sexual abuse by his own step-daughter, Dylan Farrow. The director’s new film, “Wonder Wheel,” premiered at the New York Film Festival but had its red carpet canceled in light of the Weinstein scandal. Amazon opens the new film in theaters December 1.