Not all Hollywood actors are born with star-studded names, take a look at this lot who changed their mundane birth names in their quest for superstardom. To be fair, it worked. Really well.
Edward Bovingdon writes for Yahoo! Movies US.
Brad Pitt - William Bradley Pitt
Oscar nominee and hunky piece of man beef Brad Pitt was actually born a William. Good thing he opted to use his middle name in the showbiz world, Bill Pitt, Wingelina and even Willy Pitt don’t sound quite as sexy. Good call Brad.
Elton John - Reginald Dwight
You have to admit, Elton John just wouldn't be the Elton John we know and love if he had found fame with a name like Reginald Dwight. Still, it must have provided him with some good life experience growing up with that as his moniker.
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Meryl Streep - Mary Louise Streep
Fellow Oscar nom Meryl Streep also switched her name around in an attempt to add Hollywood glamour. Either that or she once introduced herself to some big time movie exec after having one too many glasses of free champers - "My name is Mary-L...(muffled drunken slurring) Streep. Hiccup."
Whoopi Goldberg - Caryn Elaine Johnson
If you could change your name to any name in the world, who else would have gone with ‘Whoopi’? This Oscar-winning star did just that...
Tom Cruise - Thomas Mapother IV
Gosh, doesn't Tom Cruise's real name sound a bit posh? Maybe he should have kept his birth name, then he would have been slated for that... rather than his behaviour on talk shows.
Natalie Portman - Natalie Hershlag
Natalie probably spotted headlines in tabloids coming a mile off with her surname, and took decisive and much needed action.
Michael J. Fox - Michael Andrew Fox
One of the most iconic names of the late '80s, the title Michael J. Fox came about as a means to an end. As there was already a Michael Fox registered to the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the burgeoning actor had to use something unique. We think Michael A. Fox is pretty darn memorable!
Meg Ryan - Margaret Mary Emily Anne Hyra
If you are going to be a movie star, you're probably going to give an awful lot of signatures (for £20 a pop if you're Hayden Panettiere). So a good idea is to pick a shorter, snappier name like our Meg. If she'd kept with the original moniker, Meg's signature would have taken longer than 'You've Got Mail' felt.
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Bruce Willis - Walter Bruce Willis
Walter? WALTER? His entire effortless cool and action hero swagger was almost sabotaged by his parents. Luckily he opted to use his middle name, and vest manufacturers rejoiced.
Charlie Sheen - Carlos Irwin Estevez
Now he's off the tiger blood, Charlie is attempting to rebuild his career with new sitcom 'Anger Management'. Although most famed for his TV stuff, he also has some major Hollywood on his CV. ‘Platoon’, ‘Red Dawn' and 'Wall Street' are among the top of the list, but we doubt he would have got his break if he hadn't stolen his father's stage name in the first place.
Kirk Douglas - Issur Danielovitch Demsky
Kirk Douglas changed his Russian name to one that wouldn't be endlessly misspelt. Good thing too for film reviewers, as he starred in more than 90 films.
Marilyn Monroe - Norma Jeane Mortenson
One of the most iconic names in cinematic history was apparently just just plucked from the air before her first audition. Even if Hollywood execs made her change her name, Elton John was rather taken with it, and featured it in his song 'Goodbye Norma Jean.'
Jamie Foxx - Eric Marlon Bishop
Adding an extra 'x' into your brand new name is sure to make it cool - if it already has one 'x', obviously. 'Eric Bishop', on the other hand, is not exactly dripping with street cred.
Jodie Foster - Alicia Christian Foster
Jodie Foster was a prolific child star, having appeared in almost 50 films and TV shows by the time she went to college. Her huge portfolio of movies must have confused a lot of people, changing her name to Jody, then Jodi and finally landing on Jodie. Seeing as her characters normally involve action and/or a ‘strong’ woman, the name Alicia doesn’t quite fit the bill. Watch Alicia Silverstone as Batgirl in 'Batman and Robin' and you will know what we mean.
Nicolas Cage - Nicolas Kim Coppola
We assume the name change was to distance himself from the Coppola family, who produced Oscar-winning directors Francis and Sofia. Plus it sounds like an action hero, which is handy when you play (mostly), erm, action heroes.
Gene Wilder - Jerome Silberman
By far the best Willy Wonka to have graced the silver screen (if you’re not a middle aged woman and obsessed with Johnny Depp), Gene Wilder is a Hollywood legend. Jerome Silberman, on the other hand, sounds like a sleazy used car salesman from somewhere you’ve never heard of… and never want to go back.
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Michael Caine - Maurice Joseph Micklewhite
Probably one of the wisest name changes in the history of words. Maurice Micklewhite sounds more like a killer in 'The Hills Have Eyes' rather than a talented and Oscar-winning actor.
Christopher Walken - Ronald Walken
Originally named after the Ronald Colman, he changed his first name to Christopher after a friend said it suited him better. We reckon he definitely wouldn't have been cast in 99 (and counting) films if he was called Ronald.