Tom Hanks, Oscar winner and accidental swear word utterer. (Charles Sykes/Invision/Associated Press)

He told Elizabeth Vargas that if she asked him to speak as one of the approximately 75 characters he assumes in the epic “Cloud Atlas” that he might utter a profanity. Because, you know, when adopting certain characters, it’s impossible not to curse.

But the ever-game Hanks gave it a shot anyway and got about eight words in before he dropped an f-bomb. Both he and Vargas immediately gasped. She apologized. And then Hanks — who even knows how to do a 180 on the crass and turn the vulgar into something charming — did so as well.

“I’m sorry, I slipped into a brand of acting,” the media tour pro said. “I have never done that before. I want to apologize to the kids in America that are watching this right now. And let me say that the next time I’m on the show, there will be a seven-second delay.”(TMZ captured the relevant portion of the video, with the offending word bleeped out.)

Vargas then attempted to proceed with “Cloud Atlas” discussion, but Hanks recognized there was still some comedy to be milked from his gaffe.

“Never give me a hand-held mike, that’s all I can... I blame the staff,” he said, wagging his finger at the “GMA” crew, who could be heard laughing off-camera.

Presumably this error will have no impact on Hanks’s status as America’s most beloved Hollywood citizen. Just to make sure, Forrest Gump apologized one more time, for good measure, on Twitter.

For GMA, spesh kowtow for Lizzie V for WHAT DID I JUST SAY??? Oops!In character!Sorry!Hanx

— Tom Hanks (@tomhanks) October 19, 2012

Update: An ABC spokesperson also has issued a statement about the incident: “This morning Tom Hanks accidently used an expletive during a live interview on GMA with Elizabeth Vargas. They both immediately apologized on air, and the show was corrected for all subsequent feeds.”