Actor Cuba Gooding Jr has come under fire for lifting up the dress of his American Horror Story: Roanoke co-star, Sarah Paulson, on stage at a major event.

Paulson, 42, was greeting fellow star Kathy Bates in front of a crowd inside Hollywood's Dolby Theatre on Sunday when Gooding, 49, grabbed her sheath from behind.

Although Paulson initially shrieked after discovering what Gooding was up to, the pair appeared to be in a playful mood as the Los Angeles PaleyFest panel continued.

But Gooding was criticised on Twitter for his bizarre behaviour.

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"@cubagoodingjr hi, dude. did you apologise to Sarah? you should if you didn't bc what you did was Gross and Disrespectful," one user wrote.

"FYI the reason @MsSarahPaulson is smiling is bc @MsKathyBates, then screams out of shock at the disrespectful actions of @cubagoodingjr," another tweeted.

"Um ... so is @cubagoodingjr allowed to get away with lifting @MsSarahPaulson skirt at @paleycenter? Total disrespect to a woman," sniped another.

Gooding Jr's erratic behaviour has raised eyebrows before. He gave an expletive-filled speech at the Footwear News Achievement Awards in December, while presenting an award to designer pal John Varvatos.