From Meghan Markle to Brad Pitt, these stars' birth names are not at all what you thought they were. It's not only the real names that are surprising (hi, Neta-Lee Hershlag)—the reasons for going by different monikers are often fascinating, too. We're looking at you, Bruno Mars!
Here, 36 stars and their real names.
1 of 36
Real name: Olivia Cockburn
Wilde hails from a family of writers and journalists, so it's no wonder she modeled her last name on novelist Oscar Wilde. She told The Observer, "At the time, I was doing The Importance of Being Earnest—I was playing Gwendolen, and I was so in love with it. Oscar Wilde is someone who I respect for so many reasons—a revolutionary, a comedian, and a profound thinker. I had all these reasons. But what I didn't foresee is that people would think of it as a sexy adjective. So now it's got a pornographic quality I never considered."
2 of 36
Real name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon
3 of 36
Real name: Peter Gene Hernandez
The "That's What I Like" singer was nicknamed Bruno for the cutest reason: because he was a chubby baby. He explained to Rap Up, "Bruno is after Bruno Sammartino, who was this big, fat wrestler. I was this chunky little baby, so my dad used to call me that as a nickname. Mars came up because a lot of girls say I'm out of this world!"
4 of 36
Real name: Jelena Hadid
Gigi is a nickname that the model's mother gave her when Jelena became "too confusing."
5 of 36
Real name: Katheryn Hudson
Perry adopted her mother's last name to avoid being confused with actress Kate Hudson.
6 of 36
Real name: Neta-Lee Hershlag
Portman is the actress's grandmother's maiden name.
7 of 36
Real name: Demi Gene Guynes (some sources claim her first name was Demetria at birth, but Demi denies it)
8 of 36
9 of 36
Real name: Christopher Catesby Harington
Harington didn't know his real name was Christopher until he was 11 years old. "I think they could see that I wanted to be Kit, but Christopher was a bit of a tradition," he explained to Glamour. "My brother's name is Jack, but his real name is John. Kit is traditionally an offshoot of Christopher, it's just not used that often. My middle name is Catesby."
10 of 36
Real name: Julie Anne Smith
Moore's given name was too popular in actors' unions, so she created a mash-up of her other family members' names. In an interview with The New York Times, she said, "My father's middle name is Moore; my mother's name is Anne. So I just slammed the Anne onto the Julie. That way I could use both of their names and not hurt anyone's feelings. But it's horrible to change your name. I'd been Julie Smith my whole life, and I didn't want to change it.''
11 of 36
Real name: Rachel Meghan Markle
12 of 36
Real name: Emily Jean Stone
"My real name is Emily. But it was taken at SAG," the actress told W Magazine. "I was 16.... So to ask a 16-year-old to pick a new name is really an interesting process, because I was like, 'I'm going to be Riley.'And so my name was Riley Stone for about six months." But the new name didn't go so well—Stone didn't respond to it when she was on set. "So then I changed it to Emma, because you know, it's closer to Emily, but most people call me 'M,' that know me well."
13 of 36
Real name: Eric Marlon Bishop
Foxx explained the sneaky reason for his name change on Late Show with David Letterman. When he was getting started on the stand-up circuit, he noticed that female comedians were so rare that they would always score a slot. "So I went to the list and wrote down unisex names. Stacy Green, Tracy Brown…Jamie Foxx! And I'm the first guy called. He goes, 'Jamie Foxx, is she here?' I said, 'No, brother, that's me.' And then I go onstage and I get a standing ovation."
14 of 36
Real name: Henry Charles Albert David
15 of 36
Real name: Adam Richard Wiles
The Scottish musician wanted to change people's perceptions of him, so he started with his name. "My first single was more of a soul track, and I thought Calvin Harris sounded a bit more racially ambiguous," he said in an interview with ShortList. "I thought people might not know if I was Black or not. After that, I was stuck with it."
16 of 36
Real name: William Bradley Pitt
17 of 36
Real name: Ella Marija Lani Yelich-O'Connor
The New Zealand songstress was always drawn to the name "Lord" but thought the spelling was too masculine. "Ever since I was a little kid, I have been really into royals and aristocracy, so to make 'Lord' more feminine, I just put an e on the end! Some people think it's religious, but it's not," she told Interview.
18 of 36
Real name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty
She still goes by Robyn with friends and family. "When I hear 'Robyn,' I pay attention," she told Rolling Stone.
19 of 36
Real name: Karen Lucille Hale
20 of 36
Real name: Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta
The story behind Lady Gaga's stage name began with an autocorrected text message. In 2006, she met music producer Rob Fusari, who compared her vocals to Queen's Freddie Mercury. He would sing "Radio Ga Ga" whenever she entered the studio, and one day they were texting and his phone autocorrected it to Lady Gaga. She reportedly texted back, "That's it."
21 of 36
Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus
When Cyrus was a baby, her family called her "Smiley" because she always had a grin on her face. She legally changed her name to Miley Ray Cyrus in 2009.
22 of 36
Real name: Onika Tanya Maraj Minaj didn't actually like the name change at all. "One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I've always hated it," she told The Guardian.
Minaj didn't actually like the name change at all. "One of the first production deals I signed, the guy wanted my name to be Minaj and I fought him tooth and nail. But he convinced me. I've always hated it," she told The Guardian.
23 of 36
Real name: Christopher Edwin Breaux
In 2014, Ocean legally changed his name to Christopher Francis Ocean. He said in a 2011 Complex interview, "It just felt cool. None of us are our names. If you don't like your name, then change your name."
24 of 36
Real name: John Roger Stephens
25 of 36
Real name: Christopher Chace Crawford
26 of 36
Real name: Christopher Ashton Kutcher
27 of 36
Real name: Winona Laura Horowitz
28 of 36
Real name: Milena Markovna Kunis
29 of 36
Real name: Vera Mindy Chokalingam
30 of 36
Real name: Alicia Augello Cook
- of 36. Olivia Wilde. Real name: Olivia Cockburn. ...
- of 36. Reese Witherspoon. Real name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon. ...
- of 36. Bruno Mars. Real name: Peter Gene Hernandez. ...
- of 36. Gigi Hadid. ...
- of 36. Katy Perry. ...
- of 36. Natalie Portman. ...
- of 36. Demi Moore. ...
- of 36. Joaquin Phoenix.
- Thelonius Monk. Legendary jazz pianist Thelonius Monk had a name you might expect of a heavy metal band or a Shakespearean character. ...
- Yo-Yo Ma. ...
- Oprah. ...
- Wolf Blitzer. ...
- Leonardo DiCaprio. ...
- Yoko Ono. ...
- Sharon Stone. ...
- Billy Bob Thornton.
What celebrity has the longest name? That would be the late Pablo Picasso, whose full name is Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Cipriano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso.
SAG allows you to keep your legal name as your stage name, even if another member has the same stage name already, as long as you sign a waiver. Notable examples include: Nathan Lane, whose birth name (Joseph Lane) was already in use; Stewart Granger, born James Stewart; and Michael Keaton, born Michael Douglas.
1. Dwayne Johnson. Dwayne Johnson, nicknamed “The Rock”, is the most famous person in the world as of 2022. Dwayne who was WWE champion wrestler earlier is now an actor and producer.
The 6-year-old girl has more than 1,000 letters in her first name - and a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records. The name is so long the girl has two nicknames: ``Jameshauwnnel,'' or ``Jamie'' to most of her friends.
The longest name to appear on a birth certificate is Rhoshandiatellyneshiaunneveshenk Koyaanisquatsiuth Williams. #OTD in 1984, her father looked to extend her first name to 1,019 letters and her middle name to 36 letters.
The longest personal name is 747 characters long, and belongs to Hubert Blaine Wolfeschlegelsteinhausenbergerdorff Sr. (b. 4 August 1914, Germany) who passed away on 24 October 1997, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania USA, as verified on 1 January 2021.
In some cases, they adopt a stage name because SAG rules don't allow for more than one person in the organization to have the exact same name. In other cases, celebrities don't use their real name professionally because they don't want to be associated with a famous relative or confused with a different person.
Actually, based on science, Samuel L. Jackson is the most popular actor of all time, ever. According to a 2018 study published in Applied Network Science, using a wide range of metrics—including number of films, times appearing as top billing, and length of career—Jackson is peerless in the field.
Some actors choose to legally change their names in court, but many use and register stage names without ever formally changing it. For example, Christopher Walken goes by Ronnie—a shortened version of his real name, Ronald—in his daily life.
Many well-known celebrities changed their first names while they were building their careers. Camila Cabello, Meghan Markle, and Brad Pitt are all professionally known by their middle names. Other stars, like The Weeknd and Lana Del Ray, opted for completely unique stage names.
- Mindy Kaling. ...
- Nina Dobrev. ...
- Vin Diesel. ...
- Whoopi Goldberg. ...
- Tina Fey. ...
- Ice Cube. ...
- Michael Keaton. ...
- Antonio Banderas.
From her stage name to her “Rachel” haircut, Jennifer Aniston had little input for the names in her life. Born Jennifer Linn Anastassakis, the Friends star didn't make the change to her from real name to Aniston. Her father and US soap star John changed their surname.
Vin Diesel, original name Mark Sinclair, (born July 18, 1967, Alameda county, California, U.S.), American actor and producer who was best known for his action films, most notably the Fast and Furious series.