A member of Laura Linney's team was assaulted by an autograph hound -- and considering how close this guy got to the star herself ... it's a testament to the need for bodyguards.
The 'Ozark' actress was in NYC Friday for Fashion Week, and as she was leaving an event -- escorted by a handler of some sort, it seems -- some dude came out of nowhere and attempted to approach her for her John Handcock ... and aggressively, right out of the gate.
The man she's with -- who, again, seems to be rolling with her in a working capacity -- is in the way of the overzealous fan at first ... who becomes visibly angry and pushes past him in order to approach Laura from the front, at which point he extends a photo for her to sign.
Laura's team member, though, cuts him off and tells the dude to back off. He also denies touching the autograph hound ... as it seems the man felt he was shoved first.
That's when things turn left, and quickly ... as the guy starts to walk away in frustration, he throws Laura's team member's head forward -- almost giving a half push/half smack, with some noticeable strength behind. It was clearly jarring enough to shock the crowd.
Laura, too, was visibly shaken ... although, fortunately, it looks like her guy was OK. Unclear if this man was ID'd, or if he's being pursued by cops. A scary situation nonetheless.