ByAllanah Faherty, writer at
Senior staff writer | Twitter: @allanahfaherty | Email: [email protected]
Allanah Faherty

Breaking into show business can be a tough time, and surely if there's one thing a wannabe actor should be aiming to do, it's make sure that a casting agent or director remembers their name. But, while some celebrities are born with names bursting with star potential, as the following list demonstrates, others have had to do a little tweaking to create the stage name they have today.

Take a look at these 19 celebrities whose stage names and birth names are quite different:

1. Vin Diesel

Birth name: Mark Sinclair Vincent

Vin's last name reportedly comes from a nickname friends gave him because he was always full of energy.

2. Natalie Portman

Birth name: Neta-Lee Hershlag

The last name 'Portman' is actually Natalie Portman's grandmother's maiden name. She chose to adopt it as her stage name to protect her family's identity.

3. Brad Pitt

Birth name: William Bradley Pitt

4. Nicolas Cage

Birth name: Nicolas Kim Coppola

Not wanting to piggyback off the success of his famous uncle, Francis Ford Coppola, Nicolas Cage decided to adopt the last name 'Cage' as a tribute to the Marvel comics superhero Luke Cage.

5. Charlie Sheen

Birth name: Carlos Irwin Estevez

Charlie Sheen chose to copy his father, Martin's choice in stage name (Martin Sheen's real name is Ramon Antonio Gerardo Estevez). Meanwhile his siblings Emilio, Ramon and Renée (also all actors), all kept their original birth names.

6. Miley Ray Cyrus

Birth name: Destiny Hope Cyrus

Miley's name change comes from her childhood nickname 'Smiley.' Her middle name 'Ray' is a tribute to her grandfather, Ronald Ray Cyrus.

7. Portia De Rossi

Birth name: Amanda Lee Rogers

At the age of 15 the model and actress chose the name 'Portia' (inspired by William Shakespeare's 'The Merchant of Venice'), and Italian last name 'De Rossi' in an attempt to reinvent herself.

8. Nina Dobrev

Birth name: Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva

Nina Dobrev anglicized her Bulgarian name to make it shorter and easier to remember.

9. Jodie Foster

Birth name: Alicia Christian Foster

Foster's stage name apparently comes from a nickname bestowed on the actress by her three older siblings.

10. Skeet Ulrich

Birth name: Bryan Ray Trout

The nickname 'Skeet' originated from the nickname 'Skeeter' he was given by his Little League coach because of his small stature. The name 'Ulrich' comes from his ex-stepfather.

11. Helen Mirren

Birth name: Ilyena Lydia Mironov

Mirren's Russian father anglicized the family name to 'Mirren' in the 1950s.

12. Elizabeth Banks

Birth name: Elizabeth Mitchell

13. Lea Michele

Birth name: Lea Michele Sarfati

Lea Michele chose to use her first and middle name after she was teased for her last name as a child, being called "Lea So-Fatty," or "Lea So-Farty."

14. Emma Stone

Birth name: Emily Jean Stone

Because there was already an Emily Stone registered for the Screen Actors Guild (rules state that no two members may have identical working names), Stone originally changed her first name to 'Riley' before changing it to 'Emma,' a nickname her mother had given her.

15. Lucy Hale

Birth name: Karen Lucille Hale

16. Lily James

Birth name: Lily Chloe Ninette Thomson

After Lily's father, musician James Thomson died in 2008, she took her stage name in his honor.

17. Paul Wesley

Birth name: Paweł Tomasz Wasilewski

Much like his Vampire Diaries co-star, Nina Dobrev, Paul chose to shorten and anglicize his Polish name.

18. Jennifer Aniston

Birth name: Jennifer Linn Anastassakis

Aniston's parents John and Nancy were actually responsible for the actresses stage name, changing their Greek surname to 'Aniston' in order to help the aspiring actors secure work.

19. Ben Kingsley

Birth name: Krishna Pandit Bhanji

Fearing that a foreign-sounding name might hinder his career, Kingsley took his stage name. He explained, "My stage name comes from family nicknames. Ben was my dad's nickname. Kingsley is from my grandfather's nickname, King Clove."

Source:, IMDb,


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