Probably half of the celebrities you know are using fake names, and we can't blame them since we're on the Internet, where the most popular male name is BoobGuurl69. But because famous people's careers live and die by how memorable their names are, there is often a convoluted and high-stakes game behind every well-known moniker.
And sometimes, the stories just get downright ridiculous.
As a teenager, Nicolas Coppola changed his name to stop other actors from teasing him. No, they didn't tease him because his last name was Italian, or because it sounded like "copulation." Some people claimed he only had an acting career because he was related to Francis Ford Coppola. Considering that Nicolas says he would have joined the Merchant Marines if he hadn't been cast in his uncle's film Rumble Fish, perhaps those people weren't completely wrong. Or even a little wrong.
Nicolas, of course, looks nothing like a sailor. He looks like a horse. He also looks like a giant nerd, and in fact, he is such a huge nerd that he borrowed his new name from an obscure Marvel Comics character he liked:
We told you he was obscure.
Since "Nick Powerman" was clearly more awesome than he could handle, he had to settle for "Nicolas Cage." Cage would go on to play a few characters published by Marvel Comics (in Ghost Rider and Kick-Ass), but oddly enough nobody has cast him as Luke Cage yet.Wait, it Gets Weirder:
In the early 90s two game designers were working on a fighting game centered around Jean-Claude Van Damme. When the project fell through, they reworked the concept into what became known as Mortal Kombat. They kept the Van Damme character (and some of his signature moves, like doing a split on the floor and punching the other guy's balls), but obviously they had to change his name. So they called him Johnny Cage.
Since the character was a martial arts actor and they needed his name to sound as Hollywood as possible, it's very likely that they borrowed "Cage" from Nicolas. You know, the same name he chose a decade earlier to AVOID reminding people of someone famous.
This is just speculation, but keep in mind that before Nicolas became a celebrity, the name Cage was most commonly associated with an avant garde composer. We seriously doubt the creators of Mortal Kombat were trying to be evocative of a guy playing the piano with a pineapple. Also, according to Wikipedia Johnny Cage's real name is Carlton, which means that, like Nicolas, he was definitely teased as a teenager.There's More:
As we've mentioned before, Nicolas Cage is a ginormous nerd. He is such an inconceivably colossal nerd, that he named his son Kal-El after Superman, one of his two favorite comic characters. The other one is Johnny Blaze, the Ghost Rider, of whom Cage even has a tattoo (which had to be covered up when he played Blaze in the Ghost Rider film, because what kind of douchebag has a tattoo of their own face?).
But of course Nicolas couldn't name his son after Johnny Blaze, even though Kal-El is much more likely to make the boy the focus of the ridicule Nic was trying to save himself from years ago. After all, going with Blaze for his naming inspiration would have given his son the most stereotypically Hollywood name of all time: Johnny Cage.
If you ask Michael J. Fox what the "J" in his name stands for, most of the time he'll tell you it's for "Jenius" (which we know is a joke because our spellchecker just drew a squiggly line under the word).
The truth is even more dyslexic--it stands for Andrew. That is the least stupid part of this story.
You know what else doesn't have a "J" in it, Doc Brown? The word "Gigawatts."
When young Michael Andrew Fox tried to register at the Screen Actor's Guild as Michael Fox, he found out someone had beaten him to it by about 30 years. There was a prolific veteran actor of the same name, with hundreds of film and TV roles under his belt. The Guild doesn't allow duplicates, to avoid confusion between actors.
Because someone could have thought this guy played Teen Wolf.
So, the future Marty McFly stuck the letter "J" in there. But the other Michael Fox guy? He debuted in the mid-50s, in the same era Back to the Future is set. In other words, if there hadn't been a Michael Fox in the 50s, Michael J. Fox wouldn't exist--which is exactly like the plot of the first movie.
Wait, it Gets Weirder:
Mike watches as a "J" eerily fades into his printed name.
When Marty travels to 1955, his father George McFly mentions being a huge fan of a show called Science Fiction Theatre, a knowledge his son uses to manipulate him into porking his mother. The show was most likely chosen because they needed to establish George as a huge nerd who had no chance of ever sleeping with anyone, and Star Trek wasn't around at the time.
But get this: the original Michael Fox played several roles in that same show, on the exact same year. Another episode, aired in 1955, featured a suburban couple finding out that their neighbors are time travelers from the future, hiding in the present of 1955--which is sort of like the plot of Back to the Future only seen from the opposite perspective.
For many, Katy Perry is famous mainly for looking exactly like a Photoshop of Zooey Deschanel's face on a porn actress's body:
Therefore it's a little ironic that Katy has gone to great lengths to prevent being confused with a completely different famous actress.
Before she started singing about making out with other girls (and liking it), Katy used to sing about praising the lord Jesus Christ (and feeling satisfied with abiding it). At age 16, she released a Christian music album under her real name: Katy Hudson.
In the context of Christian entertainment Katy's name was unique, but when she made the jump to pop music (and the morally bankrupt world of mainstream media), she adopted the surname Perry to avoid confusion with Hollywood actress Kate Hudson.
Kate Hudson, whose main contribution to society is nothing. Nothing at all.
Katy has become pretty defensive of her fake name: In 2009, her lawyers tried to stop an Australian fashion designer called Katie Perry from opening a clothing store under her own name. You know, the name she was born with, which the other Katy only adopted a few years ago. And after Australian Katie had already started her business.
Aussies called shenanigans, and Katy was kind enough to drop the case at the last minute and allow the designer to continue using her birth name.Wait, it Gets Weirder:
Katy Perry changed her name because of Kate Hudson, but Kate Hudson shouldn't even be named Kate Hudson. Why? Well, she's the daughter of Goldie Hawn and Bill Hudson--a performer from a 70s pop band/variety act called The Hudson Brothers. Between 1974 and 1975, at the absolute height of their fame, The Hudson Brothers starred in a Saturday morning show at CBS.
Even if that's not a euphemism, we would rather not.
But before becoming a band, the members of The Hudson Brothers were known as the Salerno brothers since, you know, that's what they were really called. At some point after turning famous, Bill, Brett and Mark Salerno had their name legally changed to Hudson, so when one of them married Goldie Hawn and had a daughter, she inherited the fake name, causing another girl to have to change hers a couple of decades into the future.There's More:
All this fuss, and Kate Hudson doesn't even like her surname. Bill Hudson may be her biological father, but to her and her brother, their real dad is the man who raised them: Kurt Russell. In fact, when she had a son with Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes, she named him Ryder Russell Robinson.
Yeah, we'd pick Jack Burton over our real dads too.