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These celebrities all changed their real names – see the surprising list

From Helen Mirren to Emma Stone, you won't believe what these Hollywood stars used to be called!

Ainhoa Barcelona
Content Managing Editor
Updated: May 31, 2024
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Plenty of our all-time favourite famous faces from the likes of Dame Helen Mirren to Hollywood star Emma Stone have changed their names for plenty of different reasons.

Maybe they needed a stage name, or went with their middle name, or just wanted a change altogether! 

Keep scrolling to see which of your favourite UK stars have changed their real names…


Emma Stone in silk silver plunging dress and cornflower blue stole at Poor Things UK gala screening at Barbican Centre in London© Karwai Tang

Emma Stone – Emily Jean Stone

It took Emma a few times to finally settle on her stage name. When she was 16, she had to ditch her first name Emily after joining the Screen Actors Guild and discovering there was another girl who shared her name.

Speaking to W magazine, the Oscar winner said: "To ask a 16-year-old to pick a new name is really an interesting process because I was like 'I'm going to be Riley. My name is going to be Riley Stone.' And so my name was Riley Stone for about six months and I did a guest spot on Malcolm in the Middle and one day they were like, 'Riley, Riley,' and I had no idea who they were talking to and they were like, 'Hey, hey come on we need you on set.' And I was like, 'Oh I'm not Riley, I can't be Riley'." The actress finally settled on Emma because it was "closer to Emily".


Helen Mirren at the 81st Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 7, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.© Getty

Helen Mirren – Helen Lydia Mironoff

The actress was born to Kathleen 'Kitty' Alexandrina Eva Matilda and Vasily Petrovich Mironoff. Helen's father anglicised the family name to Mirren in the 1950s and changed his name to Basil Mirren.


Meghan Markle in a gold dress© Kevin Mazur

Meghan Markle – Rachel Meghan Markle

The Duchess of Sussex's first name is the same as her character on the popular legal drama Suits - Rachel! The Duchess portrayed the paralegal Rachel Elizabeth Zane on the show since 2011 and left the show after marrying Prince Harry in 2018.


AMERICAN IDOL  "613 (Top 12 Reveal!)"  The Top 20 contestants perform LIVE, with overnight voting results revealing 10 Idol hopefuls who will continue. Judges Luke Bryan, Katy Perry and Lionel Richie will choose two singers to round out the Top 12 competing to be the next American Idol.
KATY PERRY© Getty Images

Katy Perry – Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson

The singer was born to Pentecostal pastors Mary Christine (née Perry) and Maurice Keith Hudson, but for her stage name, Katy chose to adopt her filmmaker uncle Frank Perry's last name.


Lady Gaga in a white plunging dress with dark red lipstick© Dimitrios Kambouris

Lady Gaga – Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta

The chart-topper got her stage name from one of her producers, Rob Fusari. Rob texted her the Queen song Radio Gaga but somehow 'Radio' was autocorrected to 'Lady'. The rest is history!


A photo of Dido on the red carpet in 2019© Dave J Hogan,Getty

Dido – Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong

On her birth certificate, the singer is Florian Cloud de Bounevialle O'Malley Armstrong, but Dido has always made it clear that Dido is now her real name and not simply a stage name. It derives from the mythical Queen of Carthage.

During an interview with The Observer, she explained: "To be called one thing and christened another is actually very confusing and annoying. It's one of the most irritating things that my parents did to me. ... Florian is a German man's name. That's just mean. To give your child a whole lot of odd names. They were all so embarrassing. ... I thought it was cruel to call me Dido and then expect me to just deal with it."


Olivia Wilde in a white gown on the red carpet of HBO's post Emmy Awards reception in 2009© Getty

Olivia Wilde – Olivia Jane Cockburn

The actress derived her stage name from Irish author Oscar Wilde. She changed her surname at high school, choosing to honour the writers and journalists in her family, many of whom use pen names.


Reese Witherspoon attends the 81st Annual Golden Globe Awards in black and white gown© Getty

Reese Witherspoon – Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

A little-known fact about the actress – Reese is actually her mother's maiden name!


Michael and Kirk Douglas at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 2012© Getty

Kirk Douglas – Issur Danielovitch

The 103-year-old actor grew up as Izzy Demsky but legally changed his name to Kirk Douglas before entering the United States Navy during World War II. His actor son, Michael Douglas, takes his name.


A photo of Portia De Rossi with her wife Ellen DeGeneres© Jon Kopaloff,Getty

Portia de Rossi – Amanda Lee Rogers

The actress adopted her current name at the age of 15 when she wanted to reinvent herself. Portia came from William Shakespeare's The Merchant of Venice.


A photo of Bono on the red carpet© Dominique Charriau

Bono – Paul David Hewson

Bono got his nickname after his neighbourhood hearing-aid store Bonavox, which is Latin for 'good voice'. His friends started calling him Bono as a teen, and it's stuck ever since.


A photo of Bruno Mars wearing chequered trousers© Paras Griffin

Bruno Mars – Peter Gene Hernandez

The Treasure singer was named after his father Peter Hernandez, but was nicknamed Bruno from a young age after his dad remarked that he looked like professional wrestler Bruno Sammartino.

Bruno added Mars to his stage name when he was pursuing a musical career in California. "I felt like I didn't have [any] pizzazz, and a lot of girls say I'm out of this world, so I was like I guess I'm from Mars," he explained.


Tom Cruise wearing a suit© Dave Benett,Getty

Tom Cruise – Thomas Cruise Mapother IV

The actor was named after his father Thomas Cruise Mapother III.


Shania Twain attends The BRIT Awards 2023© Getty Images

Shania Twain – Eilleen Regina Edwards

The Man! I Feel Like a Woman! singer was born Eilleen Regina Edwards. She legally took her stepfather's surname Twain after she was adopted by him at a young age, when her mother remarried.


Whoopi Goldberg has an impressive multi-million dollar net worth© Dimitrios Kambouris

Whoopi Goldberg – Caryn Elaine Johnson

Unsurprisingly, the name Whoopi was taken from a whoopee cushion. "If you get a little gassy, you've got to let it go. So people used to say to me, 'You're like a whoopee cushion.' And that's where the name came from," the actress has said.

Of her surname, she said: "My mother did not name me Whoopi, but Goldberg is my name, it's part of my family, part of my heritage. Just like being black."  


 Iggy Azalea attends Roc Nation THE BRUNCH at One World Observatory© Theo Wargo

Iggy Azalea – Amethyst Amelia Kelly

The Fancy rapper took her stage name from the name of her childhood dog, Iggy, and the street she grew up on, Azalea Street, where her family lives to this day.


Joaquin Phoenix – Joaquín Rafael Bottom© Borja B. Hojas

Joaquin Phoenix – Joaquín Rafael Bottom

The Walk the Line actor was born Joaquín Rafael Bottom, but for a period of time he was known as Leaf Phoenix.


Judy Garland sitting on the steps with a tennis racquet© Silver Screen Collection

Judy Garland – Frances Ethel Gumm

The Wizard of Oz star was named after her dad Francis and her mum Ethel. There are several stories around the change of her name. She is said to have picked Judy after being inspired by a popular Hoagy Carmichael song, while Garland came from Carole Lombard's character Lily Garland in the film Twentieth Century.


Martin Sheen attends the WE Day Celebration Dinner at The Beverly Hilton Hotel © Todd Williamson

Martin Sheen – Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez

The actor adopted his stage name after claiming that people became suspicious of his birth name. He explained: "Whenever I would call for an appointment, whether it was a job or an apartment, and I would give my name, there was always that hesitation and when I'd get there, it was always gone. So I thought, I got enough problems trying to get an acting job, so I invented Martin Sheen.

It's still Estevez officially. I never changed it officially. I never will. It's on my driver's license and passport and everything. I started using Sheen, I thought I'd give it a try, and before I knew it, I started making a living with it and then it was too late. In fact, one of my great regrets is that I didn't keep my name as it was given to me. I knew it bothered my dad."


Meg Ryan attends the 2024 Met Gala celebrating "Sleeping Beauties: Reawakening Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 06, 2024 in New York City© Getty

Meg Ryan – Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra

The actress' birth name is a lot longer than her stage name!


Sir Michael Caine attend "The Great Escaper" World Premiere at BFI Southbank on September 20, 2023 in London, England© Mike Marsland,Getty

Michael Caine – Sir Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr. CBE

The actor was named after his father Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Sr., a fish market porter.

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