The movie star was on the ABC morning show Friday promoting his new film "Cloud Atlas" when interviewer Elizabeth Vargas asked Hanks to say something in an accent he used for one of the many characters he portrays in the picture.
Hanks replied that the character mostly speaks in swear words. Vargas said that if he uses the accent, "they won't know."
You can guess what happened next, and hear it in the uncensored video above, though the audio quality is poor, apparently due to microphone issues. Hanks started improvising and the F-word came flying out of his mouth. Hanks immediately put his hand over his mouth and he and Vargas started apologizing profusely.
VIDEO: 'Cloud Atlas' trailer
"We are so sorry," Vargas said while Hanks explained his over-enthusiastic method acting. Hanks also joked that the next time he's on "Good Morning America" there will be a seven-second delay. "Never give me a handheld mike," the actor quipped.
News programs typically don't have the delays that have become commonplace in awards shows and even sporting events to ensure that expletives don't accidentally get aired.
While Hanks' goof was certainly a surprise, not surprising is that the Parents Television Council, a conservative watchdog group often critical of the television industry, has already put out a press release bashing ABC.
“Once again, a morning news show has allowed the harshest profanity to be broadcast into every living room and breakfast table in the country," said PTC Director of Public Policy Dan Isett. "These cannot and must not be dismissed as ‘mistakes,’ and it’s time for the networks to step up, take responsibility for what they broadcast, and ensure that this never happens again.”
The real lesson is for Vargas. If an actor tells you that the character you are asking him to imitate does nothing but swear, take him at his word for it instead of prodding him on to give you a taste.
Follow Joe Flint on Twitter @JBFlint.