Hollywood is all about glamour and make belief. Even the superstars like Demi Moore, Tina Fey, Mila Kunis, and Dakota Fanning, succumb to the lust of fame (and public relations agents) and change their birth names for different reasons. However, you probably don’t know how the celebrities ended up with their current monikers.
Some celebrities real names are simple–Nicolas Cage, nephew of Francis Ford Coppola, changed his last name to make a name for himself without the worries of Hollywood nepotism. Others, like Michael Caine and Martin Sheen are more inspired. And then there’s Whoopi Goldberg, whose name was Caryn Johnson until friends noticed her flatulence problem.
25| Reese Witherspoon — Laura Jeanne
The “Sweet Home Alabama” actress traded her first and middle name in for her mother’s maiden name, “Reese.”
24| Joaquin Phoenix — Joaquin Rafael Bottom/Leaf Phoenix
Joaquin Rafael Bottom was born in 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He is the third of five children, all with equally as interesting names, including River (1970–1993), Rain (1973),Liberty (1976), Summer (1978), and a half-sister named Jodean (1964).
After Joaquin’s parents, John Lee and Arlyn Bottom, married in 1969, the couple joined the religious cult the Children of God and traveled around South America. But they soon became disenchanted with the cult and moved back to the U.S. in 1978, where they changed their last name to “Phoenix” to symbolize “new beginning.”
23| Drake — Aubrey Drake Graham
When he played wheelchair-bound Jimmy Brooks on the Canadian TV show “Degrassi,” the actor went by the name Aubrey Graham. But when the Toronto native switched his career focus to rapping in 2009 after signing a recording contract with Lil Wayne‘s Young Money Entertainment, he started using one name only: Drake.
22| Whoopi Goldberg — Caryn Elaine Johnson
Born Caryn Elaine Johnson, this famous actress and “The View” correspondent didn’t become Whoopi Goldberg until, while working in a theater in San Diego, friends noticed she had a bit of a flatulence problem and began calling her Whoopi after a whoopee cushion.
It was Whoopi’s mother who felt her daughter should take a Jewish-sounding last name to advance her Hollywood career. And thus Whoopi Goldberg was born.
21| Jodie Foster — Alicia Christian Foster
Foster’s estranged brother Buddy claims her name change to “Jodie” came as the result of a nickname, the code, “Jo D” for their mother’s partner, Josephina Dominguez.
20| Meg Ryan — Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
Born in Fairfield, Connecticut, to Roman Catholic parents named Susan Jordan and Harry Hyra, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra changed her name to Meg Ryan after she dropped out of NYU one semester early to pursue her budding acting career.
19| Tina Fey — Elizabeth Stamatina Fey
That’s right. Fey shares the name of her “30 Rock” Liz Lemon character. Her stage name is just a shortened version of her middle name
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