Out of all the celebrity tattoos in Hollywood, the massive phoenix on Ben Affleck's back reigns supreme as the one we've been most fixated on for the longest. Nearly four years since the ink was first unveiled — accidentally, captured by paparazzi — Affleck has talked frankly about the much-discussed piece for the very first time. Guess what? He loves it, and doesn't really care what you think.
On today's episode of Ellen, Affleck sits down with the comedian and talk-show host to promote his latest Netflix film, Triple Frontier. But you can't talk about Triple Frontier without talking about Affleck's back tattoo (sorry, guy): After all, when Affleck was first caught with the ink, he was on set for the film Live By Night, and later told Extra host Mario Lopez that it was fake and "for a movie."
Fast forward three years, and Affleck was spotted on a beach in Hawaii shooting Triple Frontier, with that "fake" tattoo on full display. A tattoo cannot possibly be temporary if it lasts a full three years; Affleck had been caught in a lie. Soon, Matt Damon said his piece, stating that he supports his friend in "all his artistic expression" — a blasé remark nowhere near as shady (and fun!) as what Affleck's exes had to say about it. (Jennifer Garner's reaction is best summed up by the scathing Southern line "bless his heart," while Jennifer Lopez told Andy Cohen in 2016 that the tattoo was straight-up awful.)
Affleck knows all about it. He goes on Twitter. He sees your memes, okay? And he doesn't seem to care, because he's doing fine. Only after Ellen joked that the phoenix is literally rising from his ass did Affleck admit that the tattoo has real meaning for him. "I like it," he said. "It's not something that I sort of kept private. It wasn't like I was doing photo shoots or whatever." Then he addressed those sad beach photos, the moment when we all knew in our hearts the tattoo was brutally real. "We were two hours north of the city, on some island in Hawaii," he recalled. "They got a picture of my tattoo and, yeah, the sentiment ran against [it], [but] I love my tattoo. I'm very happy with it."
There you have it, folks. He loves his incredibly large, very colorful back tattoo, thank you very much, and he won't let the negativity bring him down. Now that's what you call a phoenix rising from the asses — er, ashes.