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."