What is the point of actors using stage names?

I read somewhere recently that Olivia Wilde's real name (the girl who plays Thirteen on House) was Olivia Cockburn. What is the point of changing it? I understand if you are some kind of artist and you want a cool sounding name (like many rappers, e.g. Kid Cudi) or if your real name isn't hugely interesting (e.g. Lady GaGa's real name being Stefani) but Wilde isn't all that much better sounding than Cockburn. And if it's for privacy, why tell the public that her real name is Cockburn in the first place?

Any ideas?

8 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Good question, and the answer is far more interesting than you may realize. To be sure, stage names have almost nothing to do with privacy--any actor who wants privacy had better get into a different profession and quick!

    Two things are at work. First, naming an actor is a marketing strategy the same way naming a company is a marketing strategy. You don't call a package delivery service "Dr. Smith's Box Moving and Delivery Service" you call it "FedEx". You do this because it is more memorable, more peppy, and more closely matches the emotional message you want to convey--in this case, a message of speed, efficiency, and strength.

    By the same token, the great actress Norma Jeane Mortenson dropped her birth name for one that sounds more exotic, sultry, and worldly: Marylin Monroe. (Side note: could you imagine trying to market the film "7 year itch" with a star whose name is very nearly "Normal Jeans"?) Similarly, John Stewart dropped his birth name (John Stuart Liebowitz) in favor of one that is shorter and more anglican, for the sake of looking better on a theater marquee.

    The other element of name changing--and I love this--has to do with some bizarre screen actor's guild rules. E!Online explains as follows: "'Sometimes it all comes down to the Screen Actors Guild and the IMDB,' says Matt Fletcher, who represents Hannah Montana actor Moises Arias, another real name. The actors union has rules dictating there can be no two members with the exact same name, so—by way of very real example—a man who was born Michael Douglas may become Michael Keaton (and he did)."

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Because some actors want memorable names or their real names don't sound very attractive or attention grabbing. For example (although she's not an actress) Dita von Teese's real name is Heather Sweet. Also, actors and actresses don't want to have the same names as other people in the same business so say if there were 2 actresses called Maria Lamb one of them might change their name to Maria Lenoir so that people can tell the difference between them and there's no confusion

  • 12345
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    I think sometimes it's to better market themselves. Other times it is for privacy. As far as telling the public their real name I'm sure most famous people have went by their old name for a while before they were famous so lots of people know it.....that's how it gets out.

  • 3 years ago

    If my call became Cockburn i could replace it in a 2nd! maximum folk replace because of the fact it sounds greater useful and is greater handy to undergo in innovations. yet yeah, Cockburn should not be a final call, in any respect, for every person, even homeless human beings.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's a way of marketing themselves. Marketing sells. And many actors don't like their real names.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It's because their name sounds funny or not good enough for show biz.Producers want a name that is catchy and sounds cool!!

  • 1 decade ago

    Just like wrestlers (CM Punk's Phil Brooks).

    Scripted things.

  • 1 decade ago

    partly so they dont get made fun of or cuz they want to be different and dont have an average name, one that people will remember

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