Did you know that due to the way the credits system works, there can only be one person with a particular name in the entire industry? If your name is John Smith and you want to be an actor, you’re out of luck if there’s already a John Smith in the Screen Actor’s Guild – you have to change your own name to get work! This is just one of the many reasons why some of the celebrities on this list changed their names for fame. Considering the fact that this list is populated with some of the most famous and widely known people who have ever lived, this is one decision that has paid off time and again.
TINA FEY - ELISABETH STAMATINA FEY
Comedienne Tina Fey is really Elisabeth Stamatina Fey. Based on that, it’s easy to see why she changed her name. “Tina Fey” has a way of just rolling off the tongue, doesn’t it? It’s certainly better from a professional standpoint than the mouthful she had to work with before.
MILEY CYRUS - DESTINY HOPE CYRUS
Destiny Hope Cyrus is a pretty name and it certainly says a lot about just how optimistic her dad Billy Ray really is. No word on whether she changed the name herself or was forced to as a result of one of Disney’s notoriously difficult contracts for child actors.
NATALIE PORTMAN - NATALIE HERSCHLAG
Natalie Portman was born Natalie Herschlag, but that didn’t last long. Portman got her starring and career-making role in the movie “Leon: The Professional” when she was still a teenager, and she was already going by her new name at the time!
JAMIE FOXX - ERIC MARLON BISHOP
The reason why Jamie Foxx changed his name is already the stuff that legends are made of. As a young stand up comic, he was supposedly having a hard time getting work at clubs around town. He changed his name to Jamie Foxx hoping that people would think he was a girl and therefore be more likely to book him. Going off of his career, it seems to have worked!
LADY GAGA - STEFANI JOANNE ANGELINA GERMANOTTA
It’s easy to see why Lady Gaga changed her name before she became one of the most famous singers of all time. “Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta” is probably a bit difficult to fit onto the cover of her latest CD!
DEMI MOORE - DEMETRIA GENE GUYNES
Demi Moore’s real name is Demetria Gene Guynes, which has the distinct honor of having not one but three words that are difficult to pronounce. It’s easy to see why she went in the complete opposite direction when picking a new name for herself when becoming an actor.
OLIVIA WILDE - OLIVIA JANE COCKBURN
Olivia Wilde was born Olivia Jane Cockburn, which is a perfectly fine name – though that was probably the problem. If you really want to stand out in a crowded sea of actresses, having the last name “Wilde” is a great way to do it.
BLAKE LIVELY - BLAKE ELLENDER BROWN
Blake Lively is the type of unique name that you just don’t hear every day. It’s probably because it’s completely made up – her real name is Blake Ellender Brown!
VIN DIESEL - MARK SINCLAIR VINCENT
When you consider that Mark Sinclair Vincent would go on to star in one of the most successful car-centric movie franchises of all time, changing your name to “Vin Diesel” was very much a good (and strategic!) career move.
KATY PERRY - KATHRYN ELIZABETH HUDSON
Kathryn Elizabeth Hudson changing her name to Katy Perry is a move that certainly seems to have paid off in a big bad way, considering the fact that she’s one of the most popular singers to come along in roughly 20 years.
REESE WITHERSPOON - LAURA JEAN WITHERSPOON
BRUNO MARS - PETER GENE BEYOT HERNANDEZ
TOM CRUISE - THOMAS CRUISE MAPOTHER IV
Which celeb do you think has the most shocking real name?