21 Celebrities That Changed Their Real Names

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Miley Cyrus – Destiny Hope Cyrus

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This famous singer has the cutest story of how her name was changed. Her father Billy Ray used to call her “Smiley” to match her cheery persona. Over the years it got shortened to Miley until she legally changed her name in 2008.

Drake –Aubrey Drake Graham

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While playing Jimmy Brooks on the Canadian TV show “Degrassi”, the actor went by his name Aubrey Graham. But when he switched his career to rapping in 2009 he started using one name only: Drake.

Mila Kunis – Milena Markovna Kunis

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Milena Markovna Kunis and her family moved to Los Angeles from Ukraine when Milena was seven years old. Not long after, she was pushed by her parents to start taking acting classes, and when she started booking her first roles they allowed her to shorten her name to Mila.

Louis C.K. – Louis Szekely

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His last name is actually pronounced SEK-kay. But after realizing people had a tough time pronouncing his name, he decided to change it to an easier English translation “SEE-kay”.

Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

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The singer said to Elle Magazine in 2013 that she changed her name because “Stefani” is “a perpetually tortured artist”, and she can’t be that in public.

Joaquin Phoenix – Joaquin Rafael Bottom / Leaf Phoenix
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Joaquin has 4 siblings, all with equally interesting names, including River, Rain, Liberty, and Summer. In 1978, his parents left the religious cult Children of God and changed their last name to Phoenix to symbolize a new beginning. At the same time, Joaquin began calling himself “Leaf” so he would have a similar nature-related name like his siblings. At the age of 15, he changed it back to Joaquin.

Katy Perry – Kathryn Hudson

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Before becoming the famous singer as we know her today, Perry was producing Christian music under her birth name – Kathryn Hudson. To avoid confusion with the actress Kate Hudson, she adopted her mother’s maiden name, Perry.

Jamie Fox – Eric Marlon Bishop

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The rumor is that Foxx picked an androgynous name because he noticed that female comedians were often picked over man to perform at comedy clubs.

Reese Witherspoon – Laura Jeanne

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The well-known actress actually traded her first and middle name in for mother’s maiden name “Reese”.

Christopher Walken – Ronald Walken

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Walken was originally named after the actor Ronald Colman. His name was changed for no real apparent reason by the singer Monique Van Vooren, whom Walken worked for at the time.

Whoopi Goldberg – Caryn Elaine Johnson

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Whoopi became Whoopi after her friends noticed she had a bit of a flatulence problem and began calling her Whoopi after whoopee cushions. It was Whoopi’s mother that suggested her to use a Jewish-sounding last name to advance her Hollywood career.

Bono – Paul David Hewson

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The famous singer of U2, and humanitarian activist we all know as Bono was actually born with more than one name. The origin of his stage name is in Latin, a short for “Bono Vox” which means “good voice”.

Natalie Portman – Natalie Herschlag

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Portman was born in Jerusalem in 1981 to an Israeli father and American mother. Her mother’s family changed their last name from “Edelstein” to “Stevens” when arrived the US from Russia. Portman now holds American and Israeli citizenship.

Bruno Mars – Peter Gene Hernandez

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Mars changed his Puerto Rican name to avoid being stereotyped. Bruno was the nickname his father gave him at age two, after his favorite wrestler Bruno Sammartino. The singer told about choosing his last name: “A lot of girls say I’m out of this world, so I was like I guess I’m from Mars”.

Demi Moore – Demetria Gene Guynes

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Moore kept her husband’s last name, Freddy Moore, after they divorced in 1984. Her Daughter Tallulah also legally changed her name to Lula.

Ben Kingsley – Krishna Pandit Bhanji

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Kingsley said to “Inside the Actors Studio” that he feared that having a foreign name could hurt his acting career.

Jodie Foster – Alicia Christian Foster

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Foster’s brother claims her name was changed to Jodie as a result of a nickname for their mother’s partner, Josephina Dominguez. The nickname was “Jo D”, and eventually got stuck to her instead of him.

Tina Fey – Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

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Yes, we know! Fay original name is the same name of her “30 Rock” character. Her stage name is actually just a shorter version of her middle name.

Vin Diesel – Mark Sinclair Vincent

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The star of “Fast and Furious” told Conan O’Brien that he changed his name while working as a bouncer at New York nightclubs. Vin is short for his last name, and Diesel is a nickname from friends who said that he had so much energy as if he “ran on diesel fuel”.

Ludacris – Christopher Brian Bridges

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Ludacris claims that his stage name explains his split personality: “The name is something I made up. Part of me is calm and cool, while the other is just beyond crazy”.

Before becoming Ludacris, he was known as Chris Luva Luva.

Meg Ryan – Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra

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Ryan shorted her really long name after she dropped out of NYU. She dropped out of NYU in order to pursue her dream to become an actress.