"They had a huge tattoo machine at the house for days," a source told PEOPLE
The true story behind Ben Affleck’s mysterious back tattoo is coming to light.
The piece, a colorful image of a phoenix rising from the ashes, covers Affleck’s back entire back from his waist to his shoulders.
A source previously told PEOPLE that he had the tattoo done after his split from Jennifer Garner in 2015 while he was still living in a guest house on the family’s Los Angeles compound.
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“They had a huge tattoo machine at the house for days,” the source said. “It took hours and hours to finish.”
Although the public got its first glimpse of Affleck’s tattoo in the summer of 2015, it wasn’t seen in full until December of that year while the actor was filming Live by Night.
While at the time PEOPLE reported the inking was the real deal, in March 2016 Affleck claimed it was just temporary.
“[It’s] fake for a movie,” Affleck told Extra’s Mario Lopez. “I actually do have a number of tattoos but I try to have them in places where you don’t have to do a lot of cover up they get sort of addictive, tattoos, after awhile.”
“You know what we would say in my hometown about that? ‘Bless his heart,’” she told the publication.
“A phoenix rising from the ashes. Am I the ashes in this scenario? I take umbrage,” she added. “I refuse to be the ashes.”
“His tattoos always have too many colors, they shouldn’t be so colorful. They should be cooler,” she added.
The phoenix tattoo reared its head again recently when the actor was photographed during a training session alongside Charlie Hunnam, Oscar Isaac and Garrett Hedlund as they prepared for their upcoming film Triple Frontier.
In addition to the back ink, Affleck also has a dolphin on his right hip covering up the name of his high school sweetheart, and has been seen with barbed wire across his right bicep, a large design featuring a fish and a skull and crossbones on his right arm and some initials inscribed on his shoulder blade.