Imagine my shock when I learned that Ashton Kutcher’s real first name is Christopher.
Jason Sudeikis was born Daniel Jason Sudeikis.
Jason doesn’t go by his first name because his father’s name is also Daniel, and it would get confusing in his house when his mom would call out for Daniel.
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.”
Keke Palmer was born Lauren Keyana Palmer.
Keke goes by the nickname her family gave her, which is a shortened version of her middle name, Keyana.
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.
Jason Momoa was born Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa.
Jason’s father’s first name is also Joseph.
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 of the Akan people in Ghana.
Kevin Jonas was born Paul Kevin Jonas II.
Kevin’s father’s name is Paul Kevin Jonas Sr.
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.”
Tina Fey was born Elizabeth Stamatina Fey.
Tina Fey is known by a shortened version of her middle name. She’s said that only a few people know her first name is Elizabeth and still call her that, including Amy Poehler.
Blake Lively was born Blake Ellender Brown.
Blake took her mom’s surname, Lively, when she decided to be an actor.
Ashton Kutcher was born Christopher Ashton Kutcher.
At the 2017 Teen Choice Awards, Ashton revealed in an acceptance speech that his first name was Chris and that he started going by his middle name when he was 19 and became an actor.
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.
Elle and Dakota Fanning were born Mary Elle Fanning and Hannah Dakota Fanning.
Elle explained that she’s always gone by her middle name and so had her sister and their mom. She said that, “It’s possibly a Southern thing.”
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.
Reese Witherspoon was born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon.
She shortened her name to make it sound more “Hollywood.” Reese is her mother’s maiden name.
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.
Drake was born Aubrey Drake Graham.
Drake’s father gave him his middle name, and Drake said he’s always embraced it. He said, “Drake is me in my everyday life, Drake is who I am and Aubrey is more of a separate, sort of proper individual.”
Jonah Hill was born Jonah Hill Feldstein.
His sister is actor Beanie Feldstein and she uses their family’s last name.
Brad Pitt was born William Bradley Pitt.
Brad is named after his father, William Alvin Pitt.
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.”
Marie Osmond was born Olive Marie Osmond.
Marie is named after her mother, Olive May Osmond.
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 name because a Mitch Ryder album was playing in the background.
Lance Bass was born James Lance Bass.
Lance Bass is named after his father, James Irvin Bass Jr.
And lastly, Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom.
After his parents left the religious group, Children of God, they changed their family’s surnames from Bottom to Phoenix.