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21 Celebrities You Didn't Realize Go by Their Middle Names

Christopher? Vera? Patricia? Who are these celebs, really?

When it comes to celebrities, it's rarely a surprise to hear that the name you know a singer or movie star by isn't actually their name. But while some famous faces come up with entirely different monikers—Norma Jeane Mortenson became Marilyn Monroe, for instance—others skip right past their given first name to be professionally known by their middle name. Sometimes, this is for their career, but other times, it's just because they were called by their middle name growing up. And, in quite a few cases, it happens when a person is named after their parent and want to avoid confusion. Read on to see which celebrities you probably didn't realize have been using their middle names this whole time—and to hear the first names you never knew.

RELATED: The 38 Most Famous Left-Handed Celebrities in History.

Ashton Kutcher

Ashton Kutcher at the press conference for Entertainment Industry Foundation I PARTICIPATE Kick Off in 2009
Everett Collection /

Full name: Christopher Ashton Kutcher

During a 2018 interview on Armchair Expert, Ashton Kutcher's wife and That '70s Show co-star Mila Kunis shared that she calls him by his first name only when they are with his family in his hometown. "When we go to Iowa, I call him Chris," she said. "Everybody, his parents, everybody calls him Chris." She added, "You pop in and out of these two versions."

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling at the 2019 Vanity Fair Oscar Party
Joe Seer /

Full name: Vera Mindy Chokalingam

Actor and writer Mindy Kaling shortened her last name and began going by her middle name early in her career. In a 2020 interview with Fresh Air, Kaling explained that her name was often mispronounced when she was doing comedy shows. She was conflicted about shortening her name, but after talking to her parents about it, she went through with it. "It's bittersweet, but I have to say, it was such a help to my career to have a name that people could pronounce."


Rihanna at a Fenty Beauty event in 2018
Andrea Raffin /

Full name: Robyn Rihanna Fenty

Rihanna goes by only one name professionally and it's her middle one. "When people call me Robyn, my head just flies around because I feel like that person knows me," the singer told Glamour in 2013. "But Rihanna, that tends to be people's own [creation]. Robyn is who I am. Rihanna—that's an idea of who I am."

Brad Pitt

Brad Pitt

Full name: William Bradley Pitt

Brad Pitt goes by a shortened version of his middle name, Bradley. Pitt is named after his father, William Alvin Pitt. In 2018, Page Six reported that Pitt was overheard introducing himself to a random woman at a coffee shop as William, so if the rumor is true, he does still use the name sometimes.

Paul McCartney

Paul McCartney performing at NYCB Live in Uniondale, NY in 2017
Debby Wong /

Full name: James Paul McCartney

Answering a fan question on his website in 2015, Paul McCartney explained that his parents always called him Paul instead of his first name, James. For one, his dad's name is also James, so it helped avoid confusion. But, his brother, Peter Michael McCartney, was also called my his middle name, Michael. McCartney explained, "I've ended up thinking it was rather Irish! I've no idea! My mum was Irish—and I don't know, maybe there's just some old thing where they call you by your second name."

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Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon at the premiere of "Sing" in 2016
Tinseltown /

Full name: Laura Jeanne Reese Witherspoon

Reese Witherspoon goes by Reese, rather than her first name, Laura, or her other middle name, Jeanne. That may be because it's her mother Betty Reese's maiden name.

Meghan Markle

Meghan Markle in Melbourne, Australia in October 2018
FiledIMAGE /

Full name: Rachel Meghan Markle

She's now Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, but her real name is actually Rachel. Meghan Markle has been known as Meghan since before she was famous as an actor, but her real name does pop up every now and then on official documents. "Rachel" was spotted on her new daughter's birth certificate, and Queen Elizabeth referred to her as Rachel Meghan Markle when she officially gave her consent for Markle to wed Prince Harry.

8 & 9
Elle Fanning and Dakota Fanning

Elle and Dakota Fanning at a Saint Laurent fashion show in 2016
Featureflash Photo Agency /

Full names: Mary Elle Fanning and Hannah Dakota Fanning

In a 2016 interview with Glamour, Elle Fanning explained why she and her sister, Dakota Fanningdon't use their first names. "I just never went by Mary, like ever," the actor said. "My mom goes by her middle name, and my sister goes by her middle name. Her first name is Hannah. It's possibly a Southern thing, I don't know. But since my mom goes by her middle name, we go by our middle names too."

Tina Fey

Tina Fey at the 2019 Tony Awards
lev radin /

Full name: Elizabeth Stamatina Fey

Tina Fey goes by a shortened version of her middle name, Stamatina. Her friend and fellow comedic actor Amy Poehler even calls Fey "Betty" as a nickname for Elizabeth. "My first name is really Elizabeth—Elizabeth Tina—so she's one of the few people that knows that, so she calls me Betty," Fey said on Today in 2015.

RELATED: Tina Fey Says This Celebrity Guest Was a "Disaster' On SNL.

Rooney Mara

Rooney Mara at the 2020 BAFTAs
Cubankite /

Full name: Patricia Rooney Mara

Actor Rooney Mara goes by her middle name because "Patricia" never felt right. She went by "Tricia" when she was growing up, but she told Paper Magazine in 2010 (via Vogue), 'I never really liked my first name. I never felt like a Tricia. And Rooney is more memorable." Rooney is also her mother's maiden name.

Marie Osmond

Marie Osmond at the 2019 Hollywood Beauty Awards
CarlaVanWagoner /

Full name: Olive Marie Osmond

Marie Osmond is named after her mother, Olive May Osmond—and they aren't the only two Olives in the family. Osmond has eight grandchildren, and one of her granddaughters is named Olive, carrying on the family tradition.

Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty at the Palm Springs International Film Festival Gala in 2017
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Full name: Henry Warren Beatty

Warren Beatty goes by his middle name and changed the spelling of his last name slightly. According to the biography, Warren Beatty: A Private Man, Beatty changed his last name from "Beaty" to "Beatty" to help with pronunciation. But, one of his cousins claimed that he wanted his first and last names to have the same number of letters for the way it looked.

Lance Bass

Lance Bass at the Environmental Media Awards in 2016
Kathy Hutchins /

Full name: James Lance Bass

*NSYNC singer Lance Bass uses his middle name rather than his first name, James. It seems that like some others on the list, he may go by his middle name simply to distinguish himself from his father, who is named James Irvin Bass Jr.

Keke Palmer

Keke Palmer wears a purple dress at the 11th Annual Governors Awards in 2019
Kathy Hutchins /

Full name: Lauren Keyana Palmer

Keke Palmer goes by a shortened version of her middle name, Keyana. The singer and actor titled her 2016 EP Lauren, and told Billboard of the decision, "I feel like it helps keep in mind what this whole EP is about, which is giving an entrance into who I am truly, like where I come from, how my career as Keke Palmer began. Keke, of course, is a family nickname. Everything attached to it—being my entertainment name, I feel like are often so separate from the totality of who I am because so much of my early career was based off of acting and my characters."

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa at a "Justice League" photocall in London in 2017
Cubankite /

Full name: Joseph Jason Namakaeha Momoa

Jason Momoa uses one of his middle names, unsurprisingly, it may be because he shares a first name with his father, Joseph Momoa. In turn, Momoa passed his Hawaiian middle name, Namakaeha, down to his son, Nakoa-Wolf Manakauapo Namakaeha Momoa.


Drake at the premiere of "Euphoria" in 2019
Kathy Hutchins / Shutterstock

Full name: Aubrey Drake Graham

Drake uses his middle name for his music career, but when he was an actor on Canadian TV as a teen, he still went by Aubrey Graham. He said that his dad chose the name Drake. "His reasoning behind it, I am not sure," the rapper told Hip Hop Canada (via Insider). "My dad is a character so it could be anything. I just really loved the name and I embraced it my whole life. Drake is me in my everyday life, Drake is who I am and Aubrey is more of a separate, sort of proper individual."

Jude Law

Jude Law at the 2016 Venice Film Festival

Full name: David Jude Heyworth Law

Jude Law has gone by Jude since he was a kid. During a 2016 appearance on The Graham Norton Show (via the Daily Mail), he explained that the name meant he was sometimes mistaken for a girl and was accidentally put into the girls' dormitories when he joined a theater group. "It's not the easiest name to grow up with in South East London to be really honest—a blonde annoying little boy wanting to be an actor called Jude

Bruce Willis

Bruce Willis at the Cannes Film Festival in 2012
PAN Photo Agency / Shutterstock

Full name: Walter Bruce Willis

Walter Willis just doesn't have the same ring to it. While he's known as Bruce Willis, in 2007, the actor made headlines when he joined a fan forum using his real name as his screen name, "Walter B". Some other users did not believe he was really who he said he was until he revealed himself on video.

Faith Hill

Faith Hill at the 2017 Academy of Country Music Awards
Jaguar PS /

Full name: Audrey Faith Perry

Singer Faith Hill goes by her middle name and uses her surname from her first marriage professionally. And since she goes by Faith, she ended up naming her youngest daughter after herself, giving her the name Audrey Caroline McGraw.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw performing on "Today" in 2014
Debby Wong /

Full name: Samuel Timothy McGraw

Hill's husband, Tim McGraw also goes by his middle name, albeit a shortened version. McGraw and Hill once used this thing they have in common to their advantage and announced a surprise concert together under the name Sam & Audrey.

RELATED: 41 Celebrities You Didn't Know Were Siblings.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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