Star Wars star Mark Hamill recently humbly confessed via Twitter that, several years ago, he gave some bad advice to an up-and-coming Austrian actor named Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Hamill wrote: “Arnold Schwarzenegger asked me for advice when he was just starting out. I told him to lose his accent for a wider range of roles & to change his last name since no one could pronounce it. He did the opposite & became one of the biggest stars EVER #TrueStory.”

At the time, Hamill had garnered wide fame for playing Luke Skywalker in the first three Star Wars films. So it makes sense that newbie Arnold would ask him for industry advice.

When the Terminator star heard the news of Hamill’s tweet, he kindly absolved him, tweeting: “Your advice was absolutely correct under any normal circumstances, and those were the rules back then. I just happen to be a rule-breaker.”

Schwarzenegger was from a small European village, but he felt certain that one day he’d become famous in the United States. Sure enough, Arnold went on to become a multi-award-winning bodybuilder, and later, one of Hollywood’s biggest stars. He’s famous for his muscular physique, his tricky-to-spell surname, and for delivering his often-quoted movie lines with his trademark thick Austrian accent such as “I’ll be back!” And later, Schwarzenegger became the Governor of California.

We’ll never really know what would have happened with Arnold’s career had he followed Hamill’s advice. But it’s safe to say that the Commando star would certainly have taken on a different feel if his stage name was, let’s say, Arnold Schwartz, and he had no trace of an accent.

But Hamill’s advice to create a different stage name is pretty standard in the industry. Many actors choose to alter their names for all sorts of reasons. For example, actor Michael J. Fox was born “Michael Andrew Fox.” When it came time to find a stage name, he discovered that a “Michael Fox” was already registered with the Screen Actors Guild, so he chose “Michael J. Fox” because he didn’t want to be known as “Michael A. Fox.” Other actors have long, complicated names and wish to simplify them; some prefer their names to sound less ethnic or more intriguing; and some simply prefer to use their middle names or their nicknames.

Here is a list of actors who opted modify their names for the sake of their careers.

Casey Affleck:   Caleb Casey McGuire Affleck-Boldt

Alan Alda:     Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo

Mahershala Ali:    Mahershalalhashbaz Ali Gilmore

Woody Allen:    Allan Stewart Konigsberg

Ann-Margret:    Ann-Margret Olsson

Skylar Astin:    Skylar Astin Lipstein

Anne Bancroft:    Anna Maria Louisa Italiano

Demian Bichir:    Demian Bichir Najera

Nicolas Cage:    Nicolas Kim Coppola

Michael Caine:    Maurice Joseph Micklewhite Jr.

Dove Cameron:    Chloe Celeste Hosterman

Miley Cyrus:     Destiny Hope Cyrus

Doris Day:    Doris Mary Kappelhoff

Rock Hudson:    Roy Harold Scherer, Jr.

Theo James:    Theodore Peter James Taptiklis

Madonna:    Madonna Louise Ciccone

Benicio del Toro:    Benicio Monserrate Rafael del Toro Sanchez

Kirk Douglas:    Issur Danielovitch

Jamie Foxx:    Eric Marlon Bishop

Clark Gable:    William Clark Gable

Andy Garcia:    Andres Arturo Garcia Menendez

Judy Garland:    Frances Ethel Gumm

Whoopi Goldberg:    Caryn Elaine Johnson

Cary Grant:    Archibald Alec Leach

Woody Harrelson:    Woodrow Tracy Harrelson

Salma Hayek:    Salma Valgarma Hayek Jimenez

Audrey Hepburn:    Audrey Kathleen Ruston

Angelina Jolie:    Angelina Jolie Voight

Michael Keaton:    Michael John Douglas

Piper Laurie:    Rosetta Jacobs

Frances McDormand:    Cynthia Ann Smith

Steve McQueen:    Terence Steven McQueen

Julianne Moore:    Julie Anne Smith

Jack Nicholson:    John Joseph Nicholson

Natalie Portman:    Neta-Lee Hershlag

Mickey Rourke:    Philip Andre Rourke Jr.

Winona Ryder:    Winona Laura Horowitz

Sissy Spacek:    Mary Elizabeth Spacek

Meryl Streep:    Mary Louise Streep

Christopher Walken:    Ronald Walken

Sigourney Weaver:    Susan Alexandra Weaver

Olivia Wilde:   Olivia Jane Cockburn

Gene Wilder:    Jerome Silberman

 

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