Oscar-winning actor Gene Hackman has admitted to “slapping” a homeless man after the vagrant became hostile towards him and his wife.

TMZ.com reported that the screen icon, whose filmography includes The French Connection, Superman and Unforgiven, and his wife, Betsy Arakawa, became embroiled in the scuffle whilst walking through Santa Fe yesterday (Oct 30) afternoon. Hackman, 82, and his wife both share a home in the city.

The incident is said to have occurred as Hackman was defending his wife’s honour following the homeless person’s hostility towards the couple. The leading man acted in self-defence against the aggressor, who has not been identified by police, after reportedly calling Mrs Hackman a rude name. The vagabond then went to local police to report the incident, although no charges against either him or Hackman have been pressed.

Santa Fe Police Sgt. Andrea Dobyns told press that the homeless man was “aggressive and called Hackman’s wife a dirty name, then began to approach the actor.” After this Hackman slapped the man, who then retreated as the couple walked away. Neither party was injured during the incident.

Gene and Betsy have been married since 1991, with their marriage being his second. The have been long-time residents of Santa Fe and Betsy even runs her own business in the New Mexico city.