ByTommy DePaoli, writer at
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Tommy DePaoli

Remember when John Travolta got onstage at last year's Oscars to announce Idina Menzel singing the most popular song in the world? Of course you do because I refuse to let anyone forget.

Despite Marvel's best efforts, not everyone in Hollywood is named Chris, and those with the less than common names often get the short end of the stick.

To help these guys out, here's a guide to pronouncing 11 of the most botched celebrity names to help you avoid your own Adele Dazeem moment.

1. Rachel Weisz

How you're pronouncing it: RAY-chel WISE, RAY-chel WIZE

How it should be pronounced: RAY-chel VICE

Everyone has the tendency to throw a "W" into Rachel's last name (not surprising, considering it's THERE), but in reality it's pronounced with a "v" just like the word "vice."

2. Saoirse Ronan

How you're pronouncing it: Say-OH-rise ROH-nen

How it should be pronounced: SIR-sha ROH-nen, SEER-sha ROH-nen

I offered two correct pronunciations here because most Irish would pronounce Ronan's name like "Seer-sha," but the actress herself says she pronounces it "Sir-sha" (rhyming with "inertia").

3. Joaquin Phoenix

How you're pronouncing it: Jo-AH-kwin FEE-nix

How it should be pronounced: WAH-keen FEE-nix

After getting nominated for five Academy Awards for Best Actor and winning one, it's about time we start pronouncing Joaquin's name properly.

4. Mia Wasikowska

How you're pronouncing it: MEE-uh WAZ-uh-cow-ski

How it should be pronounced: MEE-uh VAH-shee-kov-ska

This ones a doozy and probably the one that strays the most from how it's spelled. Don't fret if you were way off in on Alice's name, considering most of Hollywood still can't even get it right.

5. David Oyelowo

How you're pronouncing it: DAY-vid OY-el-oh-wo

How it should be pronounced: DAY-vid, OH-yell-oh-oh

Oyelowo may have had a banner year (in movies like [Selma](movie:1041230) and [Interstellar](movie:813746)), but people are still struggling with getting his name down. Protip: it's pretty much "oh-yellow-oh."

6. Isla Fisher

How you're pronouncing it: IS-la, Fish-UR

How it should be pronounced: EYE-la, Fish-UR

She's Australian, guys, you gotta remove some consonants.

7. Iwan Rheon

How you're pronouncing it: YOU-un REE-on

How it should be pronounced: OO-wan REE-on, OO-wan HREH-on

Full disclosure: this one I'm still struggling with a bit. But, as one of my favorites characters on [Misfits](series:722458) and [Game of Thrones](movie:817617), I'm determined to get this one down. I'm gonna let Iwan himself take this one away because I don't fully trust any online sources and I can't convey the sounds he is making here.

8. Amanda Seyfried

How you're pronouncing it: Uh-man-duh SIGH-freed, SIG-freed, SAFE-ride

How it should be pronounced: Uh-man-duh SIGH-fred

Ever since Mean Girls, Seyfried has endured a barrage of mispronunciations, but the worst of which has got to be "Saferide."

9. Marion Cotillard

How you're pronouncing it: Mer-EE-un CO-ta-lard

How it should be pronounced: Mah-ree-OHN co-tee-YAR

Ah, the beautiful French actress with her beautiful French name that nearly every American butchers. To be fair, that French "R" can really get you down. Here's hoping whoever is announcing her at this year's Academy Awards does his research.

10. Ralph Fiennes

How you're pronouncing it: RALF FEE-ens

How it should be pronounced: RAFE Fines

There should be a support group for all the people who referred to Voldemort as "Ralph" for YEARS before realizing their horribly embarrassing error. I will happily participate.

11. Charlize Theron

How you're pronouncing it: Char-leez There-on

How it should be pronounced: Shar-leez There-in, Shar-leez Tron (Afrikaans)

So pretty much everybody has been pronouncing Charlize's name wrong for her whole career. To make matters worse, even the Americanized version is pretty far off from how the South African actress truly pronounces her own name. I'll let the Oscar-winner do the talking:

12. Quvenzhané Wallis

How you're pronouncing it: Qwa-ven-johnny WALL-iss (if you're Ricky Gervais)

How it should be pronounced: Kwuh-VEN-zhuh-nay WALL-iss

Those of you who keep up with award shows know that presenters, celebrities, and reporters refuse to get this name down. Now, you can be better and more thoughtful than all of them. Hurray!

The worst part is that this name is really not that hard to pronounce once you see it spelled phonetically, and this poor little girl has gotten so much flack for it. I get that this combination of consonants can look daunting to Western eyes, but it actually rolls of the tongue nicely.

BONUS: Jake Gyllenhaal joking with a reporter

Yup, Jake's last name should from now on be pronounced Yill-en-who-la-hay!

And there you have it, the most important pronunciation guide to review before parties, movies, and just general conversation. You can rest assured that you will face no more public scrutiny for misreading an uncommon name.

After studying up, did any of these true pronunciations surprise you? Are there any others that need to be included?


Which celeb name still gives you the most trouble?


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