Ben Affleck Says His Phoenix Back Tattoo Is Real and "Meaningful"

Ben Affleck and Ellen DeGeneres on The Ellen Show - Publicity-H 2019
Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.

The actor previously claimed that his polarizing body art was fake.

Ben Affleck loves his giant back tattoo — even if no one else seems to.

The actor made an appearance on Thursday's episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, during which he defended his much discussed body art that he previously claimed was fake. Asked about the enormous portrait of a phoenix on his backside, Affleck confirmed to DeGeneres that the ink is indeed permanent.

Affleck admitted that the general response to his tattoo — which was first revealed in shots of the Triple Frontier star on vacation in Hawaii in 2016 — was "not so much positive." DeGeneres quipped, "It's a commitment," adding that the phoenix appears to be "rising from your ass."

Affleck insisted that "we didn't even plan that bit," giving props to DeGeneres' joke. "That's what you get when you're a comedian. You can do that kind of thing. Very quick."

Affleck received heat for his tattoo from social media users and celebrities alike when it first made headlines three years ago. Even his ex-fiancee Jennifer Lopez and ex-wife, Jennifer Garner, gave it less than stellar reviews.

"It's awful!" Lopez previously said during an interview on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, while Garner told Vanity Fair, "You know what we would say in my hometown about that? 'Bless his heart.' A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario?"

Around the same time, while chatting with Extra's Mario Lopez, Affleck insisted that the tattoo was fake. In fact, he claimed it was for a role in an unnamed film. "It's fake for a movie," he said, noting that he couldn't reveal the details of the mysterious gig. "I actually do have a number of tattoos. But I try to not have them in places where you have to do a lot of cover-up."

But these days, Affleck couldn't be prouder of his ink. He also told DeGeneres that the phoenix is "meaningful" and "represents something really important to me."

"I like it. It's something I sort of kept private. It wasn't like I was sort of doing photo shoots or whatever. We were two hours north of the city on some island in Hawaii, and we didn't know paparazzi was there," he explained, referencing his 2016 trip to Hawaii. "So they got a picture of my tattoo and, yeah, the sentiment ran, you know, against."

Added Affleck: "I was like, 'I love my tattoo.' I'm very happy with it. Luckily I'm the one who has it."

Watch Affleck's Ellen interview below.