Will Ferrell Says He Was 'So Embarrassed' By His Real Name Growing Up

Will Ferrell is totally cool having a meltdown in a glass case of emotion, but he’s a little ashamed by his real first name.

The “Saturday Night Live” alum made the confession on Tuesday’s episode of Christina Applegate’s “MeSsy” podcast while the two former “Anchorman” co-stars spoke about their childhoods.

“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,” Ferrell explained, about an hour and 18 minutes into the episode.

“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.’”

Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate at
Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate at "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" premiere in 2004. Jim Spellman via Getty Images

Ferrell said as a kid, it was “excruciating” to have to wait for his teachers to remember he went by Will. 

“It wasn’t my choice,” he said, when Applegate asked about his disdain for the name John. “My parents named [me] John but they called me Will. I grew up as Will, but on a roll sheet, my legal name is John Ferrell.”

“I don’t know why that was so embarrassing to me to have to explain I’m actually Will,” he added, noting that other children would usually ask him about his name after hearing him correct teachers each school year.

“People are probably going to be listening to this going, ‘That is the lamest thing ever,’” Ferrell joked, to which Applegate responded: “We just lost [any listener] named John.”

The “Step Brothers” star is the latest in a handful of celebrities who are opening up about their names.

In April, Emma Stone told The Hollywood Reporter that it would be “nice” if people began calling her by her legal name, which is Emily Stone.

And Anne Hathaway told late night host Jimmy Fallon in 2021 that everyone in her life calls her by her nickname, “Annie” — except for her mom, who calls her “Anne” when she’s upset at her.

“Every time I step out in public and someone calls my name, I think they’re gonna yell at me,” she said.