STUART TOWNSEND stunned onlookers at The Hungry Cat restaurant in Hollywood when he pounced on girlfriend CHARLIZE THERON, who’d just arrived, and bullied her viciously for showing up 45 minutes late! Charlize kept apologizing profusely, but Taliban Townsend wouldn’t let up — calling her “rude” in front of two business associates, say sources.

The ridicule stopped momentarily as the waitress took meal orders, but all Charlize ordered was a vodka. Teary-eyed, the gorgeous star wrapped her arms around Townsend, planted a big kiss on his lips and said: “I’m sorry I was late, and I’m sorry that all of you had to wait. But I’m here now.” Then she rubbed her snarling sweetie’s neck — and finally got the reaction she wanted. “Okay,” he said, “I forgive you.”