On “The Ellen Show” on Thursday, the actor, 46, acknowledged that the reaction from the public was “not so much positive” and defended his enormous back piece.
“It represents something very important to me. It’s meaningful to me,” he said. “I like it. It’s something that I sort of kept private, I wasn’t doing photoshoots or whatever. I love my tattoo. I’m very happy with it.”
Affleck was first spotted with the huge design in 2015 while filming his upcoming Netflix movie “Live By Night.” He later dodged questions by claiming the design was actually fake for the movie and not a permanent addition.
However, in 2018, Affleck alluded that the ink could be real after The New Yorker skewered it and his mental health, describing Affleck as having “thick skin with garish tattoos.” He responded, “@NewYorker I’m doing just fine,” on Twitter.
Though he didn’t go into detail about what the phoenix — a symbol of rebirth — represents during his interview with DeGeneres, he did allude to his past few tumultuous years.
“There’s temptation to get like — I could get depressed, I could be like, ‘I’ve been through a lot. That was hard, this was hard,’ or I could be kind of embarrassed. But I have to say, I feel so good right now,” Affleck said, hinting at his recent stint in rehab and battle with alcoholism. “I’m in such a great place, kids are healthy, life is good. So whatever it took for me to get to this place, I’m grateful for.”
When he got the ink, ex-fiancée Jennifer Lopez and ex-wife Jennifer Garner both vocally disapproved of the phoenix imagery. “It’s awful!” Lopez said. “His tattoos always have too many colors, they shouldn’t be so colorful. They should be cooler.”
“You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart,’” Jennifer Garner said in 2016. “A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario? I take umbrage. I refuse to be the ashes.”
BFF Matt Damon was among the few supporters: “I mean, it’s not one man’s job to tell another man what he can do to his back. I support him in all of his artistic expression,” he said. Even Ellen couldn’t resist ribbing the father of two, joking that the multi-colored bird is rising out of his “ass.”
However, it seems Affleck would like everyone to butt out completely. “Luckily, I’m the one who has it,” he said.