18 Celebs Who Changed Their Real Names, and the Stories Behind Them

2 years ago

A school teacher from a small German town decided to give his student a nickname. The nickname ended up becoming the name of the future star — the lead singer of the band Scooter. And it’s great because his real name is pretty simple.

We at Bright Side decided to find out what the names of super famous stars really are. We also found out some amusing details about their lives and we’re happy to share them with you.

Lady Gaga — Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

The singer’s real name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. She got the idea for her stage name totally by accident. She explained that she received a text message where the word ’’Radio Ga Ga’’ had been autocorrected to ’’Lady Ga Ga.’’ She had replied to the text, saying, ’’That’s it. Don’t ever call me Stefani again.’’

Olivia Wilde — Olivia Cockburn

The actress had changed her surname, which was originally Cockburn. She explained that her mother suggested that she pick ’’something Irish and something that I’d always be inspired by.’’ And since Olivia ’’was in love’’ with the Irish poet and playwright, Oscar Wilde, and respected him immensely, taking his surname seemed to be the perfect fit for her.

Ashton Kutcher — Chris Kutcher

The real name of the actor is Christopher Ashton Kutcher, and all of Ashton’s relatives from his home state call him Chris. His wife, Mila Kunis, also said that when they go to his hometown, she also calls him Chris. But when they come back to California, he stops reacting to Chris and calls him Ashton again.

Michael J. Fox — Michael Andrew Fox

After his debut in Letters from Frank, the young Michael Andrew Fox decided to register with the Screen Actors Guild. But it turned out that some other Michael Fox was already there. And this organization has a strict rule: no identical names, to avoid confusion. Michael didn’t like his middle name Andrew, so he decided to take the letter “J” after another famous actor Michael J. Pollard.

Pink — Alecia Beth Moore

Alecia Moore started performing in clubs at the age of 14. At about the same time, she got herself the stage name, Pink. It used to have a negative meaning because Alecia chose it after one of the characters from Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs.

H.P. Baxxter — Hans Peter Geerdes

H.P. Baxxter, the lead singer of the band Scooter is still called Hans Peter by his mom (sometimes even H.P.) According to the singer, he had some problems because of his simple name and he was grateful to his chemistry teacher that started to call him H.P.

Michael Caine — Maurice Joseph Micklewhite

Michael Caine had to give up his real name because he became too famous under his stage name. When he gave his ID to guards at an airport, they were confused that the actor who they knew as Michael Caine had the real name: Maurice Joseph Micklewhite. So, they held him and verified his identity for another hour.

Cher — Cherilyn Sarkisian

Cher has Armenian roots. It is interesting that when she was young, she didn’t know she was talented and she didn’t think she was attractive. But she wanted to become famous no matter what.

Dolph Lundgren — Hans Lundgren

This Swedish guy, Hans Lundgren, could have become an engineer if he hadn’t found a bouncer job. He was once invited into the dressing room of singer and actress Grace Jones who liked him so much that she introduced him to the world of show business. As a result, he stopped studying. And after the movie Rocky IV was released, Lundgren became a star and changed his name to Dolph after one of his mother’s relatives.

Olivia Colman — Sarah Caroline Sinclair

When Sarah Colman started appearing in movies, she faced the problem that many others actors have — there was another actress with the same name. She decided to take her best college friend’s name, Olivia, and Sinclair is her husband’s last name. But her friends don’t call her Olivia or Sarah, they call her Colly, as it’s her old nickname.

Sting — Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner

Gordon got his nickname after his habit of wearing a black-yellow jumper that made him look like a wasp. The singer says that even his mother calls him Sting.

Björk — Björk Guðmundsdóttir

Singer and actress Björk has such a difficult last name thanks to where she’s from. She got successful very early — at the age of 11, when her teachers sent a recording of the song “I Love to Love” sung by Björk to the only radio station in Iceland. She was offered the chance to record an album and sign a contract.

Christopher Walken — Ronald Walken

The future of Ronald Walken was written for him at the time he was born: his mother wanted to become famous so badly that she sent all of her children to work on TV. She even named her son after a TV star from the first half of the 20th century, Ronald Colman.

But when Walken later started working as a dancer in a nightclub, one of the dancers recommended that he change his name to Christopher. And that’s how his stage name appeared.

Ronald Colman

Bruce Lee — Lee Jun-fan

The Hong Kong-American actor Lee Jun-fan, also known as Bruce Lee, started acting when he was a baby thanks to his father. By the age of 18, he had already appeared in 20 movies. It’s believed that the American name Bruce was given to him by a doctor when he was born.

Lara Fabian — Lara Sophie Katy Crokaert

The Canadian-Belgian singer was named Lara after Pasternak’s character in Doctor Zhivago. And the stage name Fabian was taken from her uncle Fabiano.

Jason Momoa — Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa

This is the full name of the famous actor whose father is a Hawaiian. Namakaeha is Hawaiian for “all-seeing eyes” or “all-knowing eyes.”

Billy Zane — William George Zane Jr.

William Zane chose a shortened version of his name — Billy for his acting career. And as far as his last name goes, it was shortened by his parents. They were Greek, so they shortened it to the simpler version — Zane.

Mylène Farmer — Mylène Jeanne Gautier

Before she became a famous singer, Mylène Jeanne Gautier probably thought she would be an actress or a model. At the age of 17, she attended acting classes and modeled. She chose her nickname after her idol, a 1930s Hollywood actress, Frances Farmer. And she became truly successful in 1984 when she released her first song.

Frances Farmer

What stage name would you choose? Did you have a nickname that you liked when you were a child?

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Please note: This article was updated in June 2022 to correct source material and factual inaccuracies.


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No surprises here. A lot of celebrities use fake names. They are part of the actor's guild which provides them with stage names.


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