9 celebrities who have surprisingly different real names

After the revelation that Olivia Colman is actually called Sarah Sinclair, we’ve dug out a few more famous faces with unfamiliar names

Actors with different real names

Many fans of Olivia Colman were baffled when it was revealed that the Oscar-winning actress accepted her CBE in her real name, Sarah Sinclair.


There are plenty more celebrities who have showbiz monikers which are very different from their own, so we’ve rounded up a list of the most surprising examples – and the stories behind them…

Olivia Colman

Real name: Sarah Sinclair


Colman was born Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman and married Ed Sinclair in 2001, making her real name Sarah Sinclair. But her close friends – including David Mitchell – have always called her Collie.

Meryl Streep

Real name: Mary Louise Streep

Meryl Streep walks a red carpet for Florence Foster Jenkins (Getty, EH)

Streep’s extremely mean character in Big Little Lies shares her real first name, Mary Louise. Luckily, that seems to be the only thing they have in common. Streep was named after her mother and grandmother who were both called Mary, and she named her daughter Mary, too. It was Streep’s father who came up with the nickname Meryl.

Prince Harry

Real name: Henry Charles Albert David

Prince Harry

Prince Harry’s real name doesn’t quite trip off the tongue in the same way, does it? People with the name Henry are often nicknamed Harry because the name was considered the “spoken form” of Henry in medieval England.

Jack Black

Real name: Thomas Jacob Black

Jack Black (Getty, EH)

The stage name Jack Black was clearly too good to resist. Black is also nicknamed JB, Jables, and Jablinski.

Elton John

Real name: Reginald Kenneth Dwight

Elton John

John named himself after Blues legends Elton Dean and Long John Baldry – he also gave himself the middle name Hercules.

Whoopi Goldberg

Real name: Caryn Elaine Johnson

Whoopi Goldberg

On The Graham Norton Show, Goldberg revealed the hilarious reason behind her stage name: “No one christened me that. I am Caryn but I was a bit of a farter. The theatres I was performing in were very small so if you were gassy you had to walk away farting and people would say I was like a Whoopee cushion. I was sometimes quite noisy, never offensive.”

Joaquin Phoenix

Real name: Joaquin Rafael Bottom

Joaquin Phoenix, Getty

In 1979, Phoenix’s parents abandoned ordinary old Bottom as a surname and chose Phoenix, a much more glamorous name with its connotations of a magical bird rising up out of the ashes. They were clearly a fan of unconventional names, as Joaquin’s siblings were called River, Rain, Liberty and Summer.

Vin Diesel

Real name: Mark Sinclair

Vin Diesel

Diesel’s mother married a man with the surname Vincent, so Diesel went from Mark Sinclair to Mark Sinclair Vincent. Then, he shortened the Vincent to Vin. The name Diesel is apparently from his days as a club bouncer in New York.

Michael Caine

Real name: Maurice Joseph Micklewhite

Michael Caine

Caine began his acting career with the stage name Michael Scott, but he had to change it after moving to London as another actor called Michael Scott already existed. During a flustered call to his agent he looked outside the telephone box and saw a poster for the drama The Caine Mutiny, and that was that. Caine legally changed his name to Michael Caine in 2016 because he kept getting held up at airport security for having Maurice Joseph Micklewhite on his passport, as security guards always greeted him by his showbiz moniker and it caused too much confusion.