21 Celebrities Who I Had No Idea Changed Their Last Names Before They Were Famous
·6 min read
1.Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook.
Alicia Keys said when she was younger she wanted to use a stage name and she originally thought of going by Alicia Wild. She asked for her mother's opinion, and she said, "It sounds like you're a stripper." Alicia settled on the last name Keys and explained, "It's like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors."
2.Olivia Wilde was born Olivia Cockburn.
Olivia changed her last name to Wilde after playing Gwendolen in her high school's production of Oscar Wilde’s, The Importance of Being Earnest.
3.Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright.
When she was younger, she changed the spelling of her name from Erica to Erykah because she believed her original name to be a slave name. She chose Badu as her last name because it was her favorite jazz scat sound, and is also an African name for the 10th born child used for the Akan people in Ghana.
4.Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom.
After his parents left the religious group, Children of God sect, they changed their family's surnames from Bottom to Phoenix.
5.Demi Moore was born Demi Gene Guynes.
When she was 18, Demi married musician Freddy Moore and took his last name. After they divorced four years later, she decided to keep his last name.
6.Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith.
When Julianne tried to join SAG with her real name she was told that there was already a Julie Smith in SAG so she would need to use another name. Her dad's name was Peter Moore Smith and her mom's name was Anne Smith, so she came up with a name that included both of theirs.
7.John Legend was born John Roger Stephens.
The stage name John Legend started out as a nickname that his friends would always call him. He said, "Legend' is something that I never would have chosen for myself originally. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name."
8.Blake Lively was born Blake Ellender Brown.
Blake took her mom's surname Lively when she decided to be an actress.
9.Aaron Paul was born Aaron Paul Stutevant.
Aaron dropped his real last name because it was too difficult for people to pronounce. Now he just uses his middle name as his last.
10.Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola.
Nicolas is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola. He made appearances in some of his uncle's films and apparently changed his name to avoid the accusation of nepotism. His stage name is partly inspired by the Marvel comic book character Luke Cage.
11.Tim Allen was born Timothy Allen Dick.
Tim uses his middle name as his stage last name because he didn't want to go by Tim Dick. When he was on Good Afternoon Detroit, he was told to think of another name because they refused to have "Tim Dick" written on the screen when he was on camera.
12.Katy Perry was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson.
Katy changed her name because she didn't want to be confused with Kate Hudson. She made her stage name by switching her last name for her mother's maiden name.
13.Jonah Hill was born Jonah Hill Feldstein.
His sister is actor Beanie Feldstein and she uses their family's last name.
14.Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag.
Natalie Portman was born in Israel and had a traditional Hebrew name. Her family changed the Hershlag surname to Portman, when they emigrated to the United States in 1984.
15.Chelsea Kane was born Chelsea Kane Staub.
Chelsea said she started using her middle name as her stage last name because it is easier to pronounce.
16.Courtney Love was born Courtney Michelle Harrison.
In 2010, Courtney stopped using her stage name. She explained the change saying, “We love her [Courtney Love] when she goes onstage, but I don’t need her in the rest of my life. The name Courtney Love is a way to oppress me.” She now prefers to now go by her given name, Courtney Michelle Harrison.
17.Julie Bowen was Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer.
Julie Bowen hasn't spoken publicly about why she dropped "Luetkemeyer" from her stage name, but oftentimes actors change their names to one that's easier to spell and pronounce.
18.Theo James was born Theodore Peter James Kinnaird Taptiklis.
After attending the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England, he decided to change his last name to be an actor. He felt the surname Taptiklis was unidentifiable and hard to pronounce. He also liked the idea of not having everything about him out in the world. He chose his second middle name as his stage last name due to "a very pertinent personal connection to a family member."
19.Michael Keaton was born Michael Douglas.
Michael changed his last name at the beginning of his acting career to avoid being confused with the other big actor named Michael Douglas.
20.Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Judkins.
When he was four, Stevie's parents got divorced and his mom legally changed his surname from Judkins to Morris. When he was around 11 years old, a record producer gave him the stage name Little Stevie Wonder. They chose Wonder as the name because it was reference to how young and incredibly talented he was.
21.And lastly, Winona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz.
Winona was cast in the 1986 movie Lucas. When she was asked how she wanted her name to appear in the credits, she allegedly chose Ryder as her stage last name because her a Mitch Ryder album was playing in the background.