38 Celebrities You Never Knew Changed Their Names

Celebrities Who've Changed Their Names
Photo: Getty Images

Believe it or not, most matters of show business aren’t completely transparent. And while many did-they-or-didn't-they questions bubble to the surface, there’s one mysterious matter of celebrity that rarely reaches the public: thename they were given when they were born.

Many of today’s stars were born with completely different names—no, not like changing Emily to Emma (lookin’ at you, Miss Stone), but dramatic moniker makeovers like the one Vin Diesel underwent in college (just wait and see) or the classic middle to first name swap à la Meghan Markle and Reese Witherspoon.

Some of these are nearly too good to be true, catapulting us into a chicken-or-egg line of thought: Does the name makethe celebrity, or vice-versa?

While you meditate on that, check out our 38 favorite celebrity name changes in recent history.

01 of 40

Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid 
Stuart C. Wilson/Getty

Gigi was born Jelena Noura Hadid, however, Yolanda Foster started calling the supermodel Gigi when she was just a child.

02 of 40

Bella Hadid

Bella Hadid
Venturelli/Getty

Similarly to sister Gigi, Bella wasn't born, well, Bella either. Her full moniker? Isabella Khair Hadid.

03 of 40

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle
Brad Barket/Getty

Prince Harry's leading lady wasn't actually born a Meghan. That is the actress's middle name—her given moniker is really Rachel―the same name as her character on Suits.

04 of 40

John Legend

John Legend
Karwai Tang/Getty

Truth be told, John—the man, the myth, the LEGEND—did not bear such a show-stopping name at the time of his birth. The singer originally went by John Roger Stephens.

05 of 40

Louis C.K.

Louis C.K. 
Jim Spellman/Getty

The comic's real name is Louis Székely—"C.K." is a strictly professional suffix.

06 of 40

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan
Jim Spellman/Getty

Ryan's real name is quite the mouthful: Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra. We don't think that would have fit on the poster for You've Got Mail.

07 of 40

Ralph Lauren

Ralph Lauren
Karwai Tang/Getty

The first-name-as-a-last-name phenomenon is a gift bestowed upon the truly #blessed among us—but sometimes it isn't quite that easy. Lauren was born Ralph Lifshitz (doesn't really roll off the tongue, huh?).

08 of 40

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn
Hulton Archive/Getty

Much (read: all) of Hollywood's Audrey-Katharine confusion could've been avoided had Audrey stuck to her original last name: Ruston.

09 of 40

Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel
David Livingston/Getty

If you've been wondering what sort of parents would willingly name their child Vin... well, not this guy's! The Fast and the Furious star was born Mark Sinclair. The rise of Vin Diesel came from his days as an N.Y.C. bouncer—obvs, you don't mess with Vin.

10 of 40

Nicki Minaj

Nicki Minaj
Laura Cavanaugh/Getty

The rapper's nom de plume is a truncated version of her original moniker, Onika Tanya Maraj.

11 of 40

Calvin Harris

Calvin Harris
Mike Marsland/Getty

Offstage, the DJ goes by Adam Richard Wiles. Taylor Swift drew attention to Harris's true name when she thanked her then "boyfriend Adam" at the 2016 iHeartRadio Awards last April.

12 of 40

Nicolas Cage

Nicolas Cage
Elisabetta A. Villa/Getty

In an attempt to distance his image from that of his famous uncle (Francis Ford Coppola), Nicolas abandoned his original surname for the simple yet memorable "Cage."

13 of 40

NeNe Leakes

NeNe Leakes
Tibrina Hobson/Getty

The Real Housewives of Atlanta star was born Linnethia Monique Johnson.

14 of 40

Charlie Sheen

Charlie Sheen 
Jason LaVeris/Getty

The actor shortened his name from the lengthier Carlos Irwin Estevez.

15 of 40

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton 
JB Lacroix/Getty

Ironic as it may seem, Diane's original last name was actually Hall—you know, like Annie.

16 of 40

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde
Paul Morigi/Getty

No, she's not a long lost descendant of Oscar Wilde. Olivia entered into this world with a fairly unfortunate last name: Cockburn.

17 of 40

Tina Fey

Tina Fey
Monica Schipper/Getty

The celebrated comedian started out as Elizabeth Stamatina Fey, later shortening her middle name to form her current moniker.

18 of 40

Michael Kors

Michael Kors
Paul Morigi/Getty

The namesake designer was formerly known at Karl Anderson Jr.

19 of 40

Rita Wilson

Rita Wilson 
D Dipasupil/Getty

The 60-year-old actress was born Margarita Ibrahimoff.

20 of 40

Woody Allen

Woody Allen
Venturelli/Getty

The famed director is no stranger to name change. He was born Allen Stewart Konigsberg, changed his name to Heywood Allen when he was 17, and later adopted Woody as a memorable alternative.

21 of 40

Katy Perry

Katy Perry 
Albert L. Ortega/Getty

The popstar was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson.

22 of 40

Miley Cyrus

Miley Cyrus
Rob Kim/Getty

The optimistically named Destiny Hope Cyrus legally switched to Miley (a reference to her childhood nickname, "Smiley") in 2008.

23 of 40

Nina Dobrev

Nina Dobrev
Frazer Harrison/AMA2016/Getty

The Bulgarian-born actress shortened her name from Nikolina Konstantinova Dobreva.

24 of 40

Jamie Foxx

Jamie Foxx
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

The Oscar-winner was born Eric Marlon Bishop.

25 of 40

Lorde

Lorde
Steve Granitz/Getty

Surprise, surprise, Lorde is not the New Zealander's birth name! Before she crooned her way to the top of the charts, the 20-year-old was known as Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O'Connor.

26 of 40

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt
Tim P. Whitby/Getty

Meet William Bradley Pitt!

27 of 40

Joaquin Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix
Steve Granitz/Getty

The actor was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom, but rose from the ashes to claim his showbiz suffix: Phoenix.

28 of 40

Bruno Mars

Bruno Mars
Slaven Vlasic/Getty

No, the singer's parents didn't raise him as an intergalactic black lab—at birth, Mars was named Peter Gene Hernandez.

29 of 40

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling 
Jason LaVeris/Getty

The comedian was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam.

30 of 40

Courtney Love

Courtney Love 
Jason LaVeris/Getty

The punk icon was born Courtney Michelle Harrison.

31 of 40

Tom Cruise

Tom Cruise
Jeff Spicer/Getty

The Mission Impossible star once bore a fancy roman numeral at the end of his name: Thomas Cruise Mapother IV.

32 of 40

Demi Moore

Demi Moore
Karwai Tang/Getty

Less is Moore according to Demi (formerly known as Demetria Gene Guynes).

33 of 40

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg
Kevork Djansezian/Getty

The Oscar-winner was born Caryn Elaine Johnson.

34 of 40

Natalie Portman

Natalie Portman
Tommaso Boddi/Getty

Before adopting the elegant last name Portman, the Oscar-winning actress was known as Natalie Hershlag.

35 of 40

Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys
Mireya Acierto/Getty

The key to Alicia's success in singing? Changing her name from Alicia Augello Cook (just kidding, her talent was definitely the ultimate factor).

36 of 40

Mila Kunis

Mila Kunis
Karwai Tang/Getty

Mila shortened her name from Milena Markovna Kunis.

37 of 40

Lana Del Rey

Lana Del Rey
Jason Merritt/Getty

The singer was born Elizabeth Woolridge Grant.

38 of 40

Helen Mirren

Helen Mirren
Jeff Spicer/Getty

The actress's true name just proves that she's been royal from the start: Helen Lydia Mirren Hackford. How regal is that?

39 of 40

Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon
Mike Windle/Getty

Everyone's favorite bookworm was born Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon.

40 of 40

Winona Rider

Winona Rider 
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Like Clueless's Cher, Winona Ryder's original last name was Horowitz.

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