20 Celebrities You Recognize But Their Real Names Will Surprise You

These celebs know stage names are always needed. Sometimes to hide a really long name, other times to blend in Hollywood or simply  to avoid confusion

By Ingrid Mateos


Vin Diesel (Twitter)

Bruno Mars


Real Name: Peter Gene Hernandez 

The singer explained when he was a kid he looked like the famous wrestler Bruno Sammartino. "Hernandez" was ditched because everyone told him to do Latino Music instead of what he wanted. “A lot of girls say I'm out of this world, so I was like I guess I'm from Mars."

Vin Diesel


Real Name: Mark Sinclair Vincent

Clearly, Vin is short for Vincent, and Diesel came from his friends joking that he was so energetic he runs on diesel fuel. He worked as a bouncer at a New York City nightclub and decided to go for Vin Diesel as his fake name to protect himself.

The Weeknd


Real Name: Abel Makkonen Tesfaye

Do you really believe someone is named 'The'? Canadian Singer and composer, Abel always hated his real name so he chose the stage name all of us know at an important time in his life. He was 17 years old when he left home and a friend tagged along. “(We) left one weekend and never came back home.” There was already a Canadian band name 'The Weekend' so he took out an “e”

Maisie Williams


Real name: Margaret Constance Williams

Williams has three older siblings, James, Beth, and Ted called her Maisie after the little girl in the classic newspaper cartoon strip 'The Perishers.'

Nicolas Cage


Real Name: Nicolas Kim Coppola

Coppola is a well-renowned name in Holywood, take for example Cage's uncle Francis Ford Coppola. He decided to change his name so nobody would link him to his relatives and instead be judged by his own merits. Artist John Cage and the Marvel character Luke Cage were the inspiration behind.


Gigi Hadid


Real Name: Jelena Noura Hadid

American Model and Vogue's muse Jelena chose a nickname her mother gave her since a child but has a beautiful story behind it. Gigi's mother Yolanda Hadid who is a Dutch-American model and former star on "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" was nicknamed Gigi by her mother. Maybe Jelena will call her daughter like that too? Yelena also explained when she was in third grade and had a schoolmate names Helena and was confusing for her teacher, so when the professor asked Yelena's mom what nickname could she use, “Gigi” was the first choice.

Jamie Foxx


Real name: Eric Marlon Bishop

Foxx explained in an interview with David Letterman that he changed his name for more stage time. When he started his career doing standup comedy he noticed 1,000 guys showed up but only three girls, and those three girls always got a spot, so he picked a unisex name. What a clever boy!

Miley Cyrus


Real name: Destiny Hope Cyrus

Billy Ray Cyrus and Tish Cyrus believed even before her birth that their daughter would achieve great things in life which is why they decided to go for a name that expressed their belief, Destiny Hope. The singer and actress changed her name but not because she wanted. When she was asked something she did not answer just looked at her parents and smiled so she won the nickname “Smiley.” Drop out the “s” and you get what we know.

Ben Affleck


Real name: Benjamin Geza Affleck-Boldt

Benjamin Geza was a horrible name according to the actor. Everyone called him “Ben Gay” so he called out his parents as “the worst namers in the world” but then his mother told him the story of a Hungarian friend of hers. "He had left from a train during the Holocaust taking Jews to death camps, and he went back and saved several others returning to break them out," the actor explained. "She told me six million Jews were murdered and that men like him were brave and selfless. That name has never been short of a tremendous honor to me since that day."

Emma Stone


Real Name: Emily Jean Stone

Stone changed her name because someone from Australia's Next Top Model already had it. The actress recalled her younger days at school when she asked her teacher to call her Emma because she wanted to be Baby Spice from the Spice Girls

Ben Kinglsey


Real Name: Krishna Pandit Bhanji

Ben Kingsley is a mixture of his father's and grandfather's nicknames but the real reason was the actor changed his name to a commercial one because he was afraid people would fear a foreign name.

Natalie Portman


Real Name: Neta-Lee Hershlag

Her traditional Hebrew name was given thanks to her Israeli heritage but back in 1984 when emigrating to the United States and following most immigrant's idea, she and her family changed her last name to Portman. Neta-Lee became Natalie.

Michael Caine


Maurice Joseph Micklewhite

The name came after Humphrey Bogart's character in "The Caine Mutiny"

“Bogart was my hero, and even though he came from a sort of snobby, aristocratic family — he was a distant relation of Princess Diana — when I was a kid I thought he was a tough guy," said Caine. "Any person with my working-class background would be a villain or a comic cipher, usually badly played, and with a rotten accent. There weren't a lot of guys in England for me to look up to."

Joaquin Phoenix


Real Name: Joaquin Rafael Bottom

Rain, Liberty, Summer, and a half-sister Jodean were all together with his brother Joaquin Rafael when their parents joined the religious cult 'Children of God' and years later left changing their last name to Phoenix to symbolize 'new beginning.' Have you heard about Leaf Phoenix? In an attempt to fit with her brothers and sisters, Joaquin changed his name but reconsidered at 15.

Katy Perry


Real Name: Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson

We had an idea that “Katy” came from something like “Katheryn” but then why not Katy Hudson? The singer explained she was always upset with the world and her solution was to create an alter-ego out of protection.  "I didn’t want to be Katheryn Hudson. I hated that, it was too scary for me, so I decided to be someone else.” Another good reason is she wanted to avoid confusion with actress Kate Hudson.

Michael Keaton


Michael John Douglas

This one is an easy one. The Batman actor changed his name to avoid confusion with actor Michael Douglas (whose real name is Michael Danielovitch  ). Keaton has revealed on several occasions he likes his real name using it in real life. “What's great is, I use my real name, Michael John Douglas, for everything, except when I'm on a marquee or a gig. So, people get very confused because I'll be going somewhere and they'll be a driver with a sign saying 'Michael Douglas', and then I show up. And they look so confused “

Nicki Minaj


Real Name: Onika Tanya Maraj

Fighting with “tooth and nail” someone changed Onika's last name. She always hated her father's name so in the end, she was convinced.

Pedro Pascal


Real Name: Pedro Balmaceda

Balmaceda is a hard last name to pronounce and was one of the main reasons to make the change to Pascal. But where does 'Pascal' come from? When Pedro Pascal's mother died suddenly, the actor told he decided to change his last name to hers as a tribute. 

Charlie Sheen


Real Name: Carlos Irwin Estevez

Having immigrant grandparents from Spain and Ireland, “Sheen” is taken as a more American name. Carlos is the Latinized form of Charles- Charlie, and he took his dad's last name as a way to honor him. Also, "Charlie Sheen just sounds better than Charlie Estevez," he said.

Meryl Streep


Real Name: Mary Louise Streep

The Oscar-winning actress's mother and grandmother were also both named Mary and according to her mother “three Marys were a lot to have in one family.”


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