Celebrity
Will Ferrell opened up about being embarrassed to go by his first name John growing up.

Will Ferrell Recalls Being "So Embarrassed" By His Real First Name

His name isn't actually Will, btw.

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Will Ferrell is a pro at making anyone crack up, but there’s one thing he has trouble finding the humor in: his real first name. The comedian recently opened up about how “excruciating” it was to constantly ask people to refer to him as Will growing up. According to Ferrell, the first day of a new school year was always the worst because of this.

“This is a minor thing in terms of — it's not really even trauma — but I remember feeling so embarrassed because my real name is John. John William Ferrell,” the actor said on the July 9 episode of the MeSsy podcast, hosted by his Anchorman co-star Christina Applegate. “So first day of school, I'd be John. The teacher would be like ‘John Ferrell?’ and it was so embarrassing to me to have to say ‘Here, but I go by Will, I don't go by John.’”

Ferrell said correcting his teachers always felt “excruciating,” even if he couldn’t fully explain why. “I don't know why that was so embarrassing to me to have to explain ‘I'm actually Will,’” he said. “It wasn’t my choice. My parents named [me] John but they called me Will. I grew up as Will, but on a rule sheet, my legal name is John Ferrell.”

This isn’t the first time Ferrell has spoken about his rarely-used first name. During an appearance on The Late Late Show with James Corden in 2020, Ferrell revealed his legal name and the nickname his dad gave him. “John William Ferrell, that’s what’s on the passport. My dad on occasion will call me J.W.,” Ferrell said. “My parents tried to call me Willy, but they said I was too distinguished, so I just became a Will.”

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Ferrell is far from the only celebrity to go by something other than their given first name. Reese Witherspoon recently spoke about how her legal name can sometimes cause confusion on sets, and Emma Stone has been trying to get people to start referring to her by her given name more in the last year.