Martin Sheen has said that he regrets changing his name for the sake of his career. The 81-year-old, who was named Ramón Antonio Gerardo Estévez at birth, told Closer Weekly that he had never changed it officially, and “sometimes you get persuaded when you don’t have enough insight or even enough courage to stand up for what you believe in.”
But Sheen is far from alone. Many film stars take stage names either to attempt to disguise their ethnicity, to sound tougher, to protect their privacy, or try to simplify it for posters. See how many of these questions about film star name changes you can answer.
The Guardian Film name game quiz
We will start with an easy one: Norma Jeane Mortenson is better known as who?
And which of these was Judy Garland's real name?
Frances Ethel Gumm
Joan Alexandra Molinsky
Julia Elizabeth Wells
Whoopi Goldberg (centre) found fame both as a singing nun and as a mysterious stranger in the Star Trek franchise. But can you solve this mystery – which of these is her real name?
Caryn Elaine Johnson
Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson
Olivia Jane Cockburn
Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx goes under a pseudonym. What was he called at birth?
Willard Carroll Smith Jr
Tracy Lauren Marrow
Eric Marlon Bishop
Meghan Markle has several movies behind her – included an uncredited role in Russell Brand vehicle Get Him to the Greek which we all try to forget ever happened. But Meghan is not actually Meghan Markle's first name. What was the first name she was given when she was born in 1981?
Similarly, Jude Law dropped his first name. What was it?
Natalie Hershlag changed her name to Natalie Portman when she took on her first film role to protect her and her family's privacy. What was the film?
Everyone Says I Love You
Léon: The Professional
Mark Sinclair from the Fast and Furious franchise is better known as … ?
Alan Smithee has many Hollywood credits to his name. But according to the Guinness Book of World Records, which was the first movie where the director's name was changed to 'Alan Smithee' rather than credit the actual director – usually after a dispute?
Death of a Gunslinger (1969)
The Barking Dog (1978)
Student Bodies (1981)
Also disassociating themselves from a director, Nicolas Cage changed his name to distance himself from the famous name he was related to. Who?
Francis Ford Coppola
Despite his best efforts to appear mysterious and from eastern Europe, horror movie giant Boris Karloff had a mildly rude English real name. What was it?
William Henry Pratt
William Henry Dingle
William Henry Cock
Also on the mildly rude front, Joaquin Phoenix was born Joaquin Rafael what … ?
Which British actor and national treasure was born Ilyena Lydia Vasilievna Mironov?
Whose name originally ended 'Mapother IV'?
And finally, recently back in the cinemas with Get Carter newly remastered in 4K, another British national treasure, Michael Caine, was known as what when he was born?
Christopher Catesby Harington
Gordon Matthew Thomas
Maurice Joseph Micklewhite
1:C - That is indeed Marilyn Monroe and, to be honest, if you didn't get that from the 'Goodbye, Norma Jeane' opening lines of Elton John's Candle in the Wind, you are going to struggle with the rest of this quiz, 2:A - Born in 1922, early in her career she appeared in a vaudeville act with her siblings known as the The Gumm Sisters. Why would't you have made it a pun on the Brothers Grimm?, 3:A - Whoopi had loved Star Trek since she saw the wonderful Nichelle Nichols playing Nyota Uhura in the original series. Katheryn Elizabeth Hudson is Katy Perry, and Olivia Jane Cockburn is Olivia Wilde, 4:C - Foxx told David Letterman in 2014 that he adopted a gender-neutral stage name because he had noticed that women tended to get called up on stage earlier in the night during stand-up open mics, 5:B - Her full name is Rachel Meghan Markle, but she's never elaborated on why she dropped the Rachel, 6:A - Born in 1972 he was given the name David Jude Heyworth Law. He claims that dropping the David meant he was sometimes mistaken for a girl, 7:C - Her parents were unsure about her taking the role in such a controversial film as a child actor in 1994. She appeared in Heat the following year, 8:B - That is Vin Diesel, who changed his name to sound tougher when he was working as a bouncer in New York. As if you were going to argue with him anyway, 9:A - There are competing claims that a 1968 movie, Fade In, should get the title, but it wasn't actually released until 1975 with Smithee as the credit, so the Guinness Book of World Records goes with 1969 movie that both Robert Totten and Don Siegel walked away from, 10:C - The star was named Nicolas Kim Coppola at birth. Through his father, he is a nephew of the director, 11:A - He was born in Dulwich in 1887, 12:C - His family adopted the surname Phoenix to represent a new beginning after severing ties with the Children of God cult in the 1970s, 13:C - Her father Vasily Petrovich Mironoff had fled to England at the age of two, and changed the family name to Mirren in 1951, 14:B - Cruise was born Thomas Cruise Mapother IV in 1962, 15:C - The actor also used the stage name Michael Scott for a while before settling on Caine. Your other options here were Kit Harington and Sting. 'And not a lot of people know that', as Caine famously never actually said
0 and above.
We hope you had fun!