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These Celebs’ Real Names Might Surprise You

They might be household names, but what if I told you those weren't their real names at all?
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When someone reaches a certain level of fame, they become household names: Vin Diesel, Halsey, Diane Keaton, Blake Lively, and other big-name celebrities are familiar to millions of people. But would you guess some of those names you love aren’t the celebs’ real names?

But what if I told you that those aren’t their real names at all?

Many celebrities in the spotlight actually don’t use their given names. They have chosen stage names for a variety of reasons. Some felt like they needed that perfect name to help rocket them to fame, while others actually shared names with other stars and had to switch because of Hollywood union rules. Hey, it might be hard to find your way in Hollywood, if your name is already taken by an A-lister!

Some of them, like Lady Gaga, are pretty obvious examples of a chosen name. However, there are plenty of normal, average-sounding celebrity names that aren’t real, either. No, Meg Ryan’s name isn’t really Meg Ryan. And Travis Scott’s name is entirely different in real life!

Read on and find out if your favorite celeb is on this list. Maybe they have been fooling you all along!

Blake Lively

Blake Lively
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Blake Lively just rolls off your tongue, right? Well, this actress was actually born Blake Ellender Brown. Hey, Blake Brown probably wouldn’t have been a bad choice, either! In any case, she decided to take on her mother’s surname when she became an actress.

It’s interesting, though, that her father and all of her siblings have done the same thing! Her dad was Ernie Lively, an actor and acting coach. But his name was Ernest Brown Jr. before adopting his wife’s surname. Blake Lively’s siblings all adopted it, too: actors Lori Lively, Jason Lively, Robyn Lively, and Eric Lively.

Kit Harington

Kit Harrington
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Actor Kit Harington’s name isn’t so much a chosen stage name as it is a cute nickname that he grew up with. In fact, he didn’t know his real name wasn’t Kit until he was 11 years old.

“I think they could see that I wanted to be Kit, but Christopher was a bit of a tradition,” Harrington said during an interview with Glamour. “My brother’s name is Jack, but his real name is John. Kit is traditionally an offshoot of Christopher, it’s just not used that often.”

Natalie Portman

natalie-portman
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Born in Jerusalem, Israel, Natalie Portman was actually born Neta-Lee Herschlag. This also means that she holds dual citizenship in the United States and Israel. Her family moved to the U.S. when she was only three years old.

Her dad is a doctor and her mother is an artist, so she didn’t get the acting bug from them. But when she did decide to pursue a career in acting – by the young age of 11 – she adopted the stage name Natalie Portman and has used it ever since. Portman was her maternal grandmother’s maiden name.

Related: Celebrities Who Look Related – But Aren’t!

Vin Diesel

Vin Diesel Hollywood Walk of Fame
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No, Vin Diesel didn’t just happen to win the name lottery with that one! It’s definitely a name that he created for himself, even before he was an actor. His real name is Mark Sinclair, which is a pretty good name, too. However, he adopted the name Vin Diesel while working as a bouncer for a New York nightclub because he felt it sounded much tougher.

Vin comes from Vincent, which was his adoptive father’s last name. Diesel came from his friends, who said he was so energetic that he runs on the stuff.

Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga
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Okay, clearly her real name isn’t Lady Gaga. This is one of those stage names that is pretty obvious. Her full name is really Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. Just try saying that three times fast! Her stage name came from the song “Radio Ga Ga” by Queen. Her music producer (and then-boyfriend) at the time, Rob Fusari, told her that she reminded him of the famous song, and began calling her “Ga Ga” after it.

She loved it, and she now proudly uses the moniker. Over the years, she has changed her mind on whether she prefers to be called Lady Gaga, Gaga, or Lady.

Halsey

Halsey red carpet
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Ashley Nicolette Frangipane is a popular singer from New Jersey, but you probably know her better as Halsey. She made the switch because it gave her the “opportunity to create a new persona.”

“I had to become somebody completely different. At the time, I felt that Ashley didn’t deserve to be famous and successful because she wasn’t that special, but if I made Halsey, maybe she could be,” the singer told Cosmopolitan. “I created a person, and she could do everything. There was no way that Ashley was going to become a king, but I made a new name for myself and took her to paranormal, supernatural heights.”

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling
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Known professionally as Mindy Kaling, her real name is Vera Mindy Chokalingam. According to Mindy, she has never been called by her first name – her parents have always referred to her as Mindy, even while her mom was still pregnant. They chose the name because they wanted a cute American-sounding name, and they liked Mindy after hearing it on Robin Williams’ Mork & Mindy.

As for her last name, emcees had trouble pronouncing her name when she started doing stand-up. She dropped several letters from the beginning and end of her surname to avoid the issue.

Related: Mindy Kaling Has Penned Multiple Books, and They’re On Our List of Must-Read Celeb Memoirs!

Diane Keaton

Diane Keaton in suit having fun at Green Eggs and Ham premiere
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Diane Keaton is certainly a household name, having won tons of awards over the years for her work both on stage and on screen. However, that household name is actually made up.

She did it out of necessity. Though she was born Diane Hall, there was already a Diane Hall that belonged to the Actor’s Equity Association. She chose the surname Keaton because it was her mother’s maiden name.

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton
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Have you ever wondered if Diane Keaton and Michael Keaton, both very well-known actors in Hollywood, are related? Well, they’re not – but their last names kind of are! Michael Keaton’s real name is actually Michael Douglas. Yeah, there’s already a mega-famous actor with that name. In an effort to avoid any confusion with the Basic Instinct star and to satisfy Screen Actors Guild rules, he decided to change his surname.

He claims he didn’t purposefully choose the same name as Diane Keaton, although that’s definitely a myth that keeps going around. According to Michael, he was looking at names that started with K and weren’t offensive. I guess he just liked the sound of it!

Jodie Foster

Jodie Foster
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Although we know this award-winning actress as Jodie Foster, she was actually born Alicia Christian Foster. Where did Jodie come from? Apparently, her siblings started calling her Jodie, and the name just happened to stick.

I can’t really figure out how they arrived at the nickname Jodie for a girl named Alicia, but that’s how she ended up with this name! It must run in the family, though. Her mother’s name was Evelyn but was known as Brandy, and her brother’s name is Lucius, but he’s known as Buddy Foster.

Gigi Hadid

Gigi Hadid
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She’s one of the biggest names in the modeling world, but it’s not her real name after all. Like Jodie Foster, we know this celeb’s name thanks to a childhood nickname, too. Gigi Hadid’s real name is Jelena Hadid, but was called Gigi by her mom around the house.

“My mom was called that as a kid by her mother when she was younger, but only around the house. I was called that around the house when I was really young, kind of like how my mom was called it,” she explained during an interview with Vogue. “In first or second grade, there was a girl named Helena and it got confusing with the teacher who had to call out our names, and so the teacher asked my mom, ‘If I needed to call Jelena a nickname, what would it be?’ And my mom was like, ‘I call her Gigi sometimes,’ and the name stuck.”

Travis Scott

Travis Scott red carpet
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The name Travis Scott sounds like a regular enough moniker that you may have never questioned it. But it’s really not this rapper’s real name and is just a stage name. His real name is Jacques Bermon Webster II. I guess that might be a lot to fit on an album cover.

Instead, he opted for Travis, which is his favorite uncle’s name. Uncle Travis is apparently a pretty “smart and cool” guy that he looks up to. As for the adopted surname, he chose Scott from another person he looks up to: Kid Cudi. Cudi’s real first name is Scott.

Meg Ryan

Meg Ryan
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When joining the Screen Actors Guild, Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra decided to shorten her name just a bit. What she did she come up with? Meg Ryan, of course. It’s definitely a lot shorter and easier to say!

Meg is clearly just a shortened version of her real first name. The surname Ryan came from her maternal grandmother, whose maiden name was Ryan.