Michael Rozman/Warner Bros.
Oliver Gettell
May 12, 2016 AT 12:00 PM EDT

For diehard Ryan Gosling fans, the phrase “Hey, girl” is more than a mere greeting — it’s a way of life.

And yet, as the Canadian actor, heartthrob, and source of endless meme inspiration reveals in a preview clip from Friday’s episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show, there was a time when Gosling himself was completely ignorant of what those two magic words meant to his legions of fans.

“I found out about [the meme] I think in an odd way, because I didn’t know what it was, and people would say, you know, ‘Hey, girl,'” Gosling recalled. “I thought that was odd, and then I started really looking deeply at myself as to why people were just saying, ‘Hey, girl.'”

Everywhere Gosling went, the meme followed. “They would just scream it across the street: ‘Hey, girl!’ So it took me a while to figure it out.”

Watch Gosling on Ellen in the video above. Gosling’s new movie The Nice Guys opens May 20.

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