21 Celebrities Who I Had No Idea Changed Their Last Names Before They Were Famous

    Tim Allen's real name is Tim Dick, and you can understand why he changed it.

    1. Alicia Keys was born Alicia Augello Cook.

    Alicia Keys sitting in a chair while on a late night talk show

    Alicia Keys said when she was younger she wanted to use a stage name and she originally thought of going by Alicia Wild. She asked for her mother's opinion, and she said, "It sounds like you're a stripper." Alicia settled on the last name Keys and explained, "It's like the piano keys. And it can open so many doors."

    Alicia keys waking down the street

    2. Olivia Wilde was born Olivia Cockburn.

    Olivia Wild posing at an event

    Olivia changed her last name to Wilde after playing Gwendolen in her high school's production of Oscar Wilde’s, The Importance of Being Earnest.

    Olivia on a red carpet

    3. Erykah Badu was born Erica Abi Wright.

    Erykah Badu stands in front of a step and repeat in almost floor-length braids and layered patterned dresses

    When she was younger, she changed the spelling of her name from Erica to Erykah because she believed her original name to be a slave name. She chose Badu as her last name because it was her favorite jazz scat sound, and is also an African name for the 10th born child used for the Akan people in Ghana.

    Erykah Badu performing on a stage

    4. Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael Bottom.

    Joaquín Phoenix on a red carpet

    After his parents left the religious group, Children of God sect, they changed their family's surnames from Bottom to Phoenix.

    Joaquin on a red carpet

    5. Demi Moore was born Demi Gene Guynes.

    Demi Moore on a red carpet

    When she was 18, Demi married musician Freddy Moore and took his last name. After they divorced four years later, she decided to keep his last name.

    Demi outside wearing a coat over a turtleneck

    6. Julianne Moore was born Julie Anne Smith.

    Julianne Moore on a red carpet

    When Julianne tried to join SAG with her real name she was told that there was already a Julie Smith in SAG so she would need to use another name. Her dad's name was Peter Moore Smith and her mom's name was Anne Smith, so she came up with a name that included both of theirs.

    a close up o f Julianne wearing a coat

    7. John Legend was born John Roger Stephens.

    John Legend playing the piano

    The stage name John Legend started out as a nickname that his friends would always call him. He said, "Legend' is something that I never would have chosen for myself originally. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name."

    John Legend sitting at his chair on "The Voice"

    8. Blake Lively was born Blake Ellender Brown.

    Blake Lively at an event

    Blake took her mom's surname Lively when she decided to be an actress.

    Blake Lively posing on a sidewalk

    9. Aaron Paul was born Aaron Paul Stutevant.

    Aaron at an event with a sweater underneath a suit, and his hand in his pocket

    Aaron dropped his real last name because it was too difficult for people to pronounce. Now he just uses his middle name as his last.

    Aaron on a red carpet with a button down opened to reveal a T-shirt underneath

    10. Nicolas Cage was born Nicolas Kim Coppola.

    Nicolas Cage on a red carpet

    Nicolas is the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola. He made appearances in some of his uncle's films and apparently changed his name to avoid the accusation of nepotism. His stage name is partly inspired by the Marvel comic book character Luke Cage.

    Nicolas Cage on a red carpet

    11. Tim Allen was born Timothy Allen Dick.

    Tim Allen on a red carpet

    Tim uses his middle name as his stage last name because he didn't want to go by Tim Dick. When he was on Good Afternoon Detroit, he was told to think of another name because they refused to have "Tim Dick" written on the screen when he was on camera.

    Tim Allen walking down the street

    12. Katy Perry was born Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson.

    Katy Perry at an event with her hand on her hip

    Katy changed her name because she didn't want to be confused with Kate Hudson. She made her stage name by switching her last name for her mother's maiden name.

    Katy Perry walking down the street

    13. Jonah Hill was born Jonah Hill Feldstein.

    a close up on Jonah Hill at an event

    His sister is actor Beanie Feldstein and she uses their family's last name.

    Jonah saluting on a late night talk show

    14. Natalie Portman was born Natalie Hershlag.

    Natalie Portman posing at an event

    Natalie Portman was born in Israel and had a traditional Hebrew name. Her family changed the Hershlag surname to Portman, when they emigrated to the United States in 1984.

    Natalie Portman posing on a red carpet

    15. Chelsea Kane was born Chelsea Kane Staub.

    Chelsea said she started using her middle name as her stage last name because it is easier to pronounce.

    Chelsea Kane smiling and posing at an event

    16. Courtney Love was born Courtney Michelle Harrison.

    Courtney Love at an event

    In 2010, Courtney stopped using her stage name. She explained the change saying, “We love her [Courtney Love] when she goes onstage, but I don’t need her in the rest of my life. The name Courtney Love is a way to oppress me.” She now prefers to now go by her given name, Courtney Michelle Harrison.

    Courtney Love smiling at an event

    17. Julie Bowen was Julie Bowen Luetkemeyer.

    Julie Bowen hasn't spoken publicly about why she dropped "Luetkemeyer" from her stage name, but oftentimes actors change their names to one that's easier to spell and pronounce.

    Julie Bowen on a late night talk show

    18. Theo James was born Theodore Peter James Kinnaird Taptiklis.

    Theo James on a red carpet

    After attending the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in England, he decided to change his last name to be an actor. He felt the surname Taptiklis was unidentifiable and hard to pronounce. He also liked the idea of not having everything about him out in the world. He chose his second middle name as his stage last name due to "a very pertinent personal connection to a family member."

    Theo James smiling on a red carpet

    19. Michael Keaton was born Michael Douglas.

    Keaton at an event wearing a tailored suit

    Michael changed his last name at the beginning of his acting career to avoid being confused with the other big actor named Michael Douglas.

    Michael Keaton on a red carpet

    20. Stevie Wonder was born Steveland Judkins.

    Stevie Wonder on a red carpet

    When he was four, Stevie's parents got divorced and his mom legally changed his surname from Judkins to Morris. When he was around 11 years old, a record producer gave him the stage name Little Stevie Wonder. They chose Wonder as the name because it was reference to how young and incredibly talented he was.

    Stevie Wonder on a red carpet

    21. And lastly, Winona Ryder was born Winona Laura Horowitz.

    a close up of Rider at a red carpet event

    Winona was cast in the 1986 movie Lucas. When she was asked how she wanted her name to appear in the credits, she allegedly chose Ryder as her stage last name because her a Mitch Ryder album was playing in the background.

    Winona Ryder on a red carpet