LATEST: French film star Gerard Depardieu headbutted an Italian photographer because he wouldn't leave the actor alone during a shopping trip in Florence with a female companion.

DARIO ORLANDI was taken to hospital after the attack on Monday (03OCT05) - but Depardieu maintains he warned the snapper to leave him alone.

He says, "I would never hit a journalist. On the other hand a paparazzi who had already taken photos...

"(I said) 'Now be nice, you've taken your pictures, leave us be.'

"'This isn't a safari: there are risks and the risk is that you will get my head in your face.'

"Then he said: 'Gerard, I'll leave you alone.' I go out and this guy keeps snapping me to death... I put my hands in my pockets and I ask him why he hadn't listened to what I had told him.

"He tells me untruthfully, taking me for an idiot: 'Gerard, I'm not taking pictures.'

"So my head delivers a single butt, which means two teeth less, and to tell you the truth, I'm pretty satisfied."

Depardieu's companion is thought to be his unnamed 30-year-old fiancee.