To promote his newest movie, the Netflix thriller Triple Frontier, Ben Affleck appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. While discussing the film and his life, a potentially touchy topic came up: the giant, controversial phoenix tattoo on his back.
DeGeneres pointed out that as Affleck was filming a scene for Triple Frontier back in March 2018, paparazzi caught him swimming with the cast, and his brilliantly colored, huge piece of body art was revealed to the world.
“There was a photo of your back tattoo that got a lot of attention,” DeGeneres offered.
Affleck didn’t seem offended at the mention. “It did, not so much positive,” he agreed. (Neither Jennifer Garner nor Jennifer Lopez liked it, either.) “The sentiment ran against [it]. I love my tattoo and I’m pretty happy with it.”
His affection probably stems from how personal the tattoo is; the phoenix, which was first spotted back in 2015, and feverishly speculated about until now, has a meaning that he (perhaps wisely) chose not to share on the show. “It’s a phoenix rising from my ass, and I was about to say it represents something really important to me, but maybe we’ll skip that. It’s meaningful to me. I like it. It’s not something I sort of kept private. It wasn’t like I was doing photoshoots.”
He explained how the paparazzi scored the photo: “We were two hours north of a city in some island in Hawaii and we didn’t know the paparazzi was there, so they got a picture of my tattoo.”
Watch Affleck’s full interview with DeGeneres below.