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Will Ferrell Reveals Real First Name is John, School Embarrassment

Will Ferrell has revealed why he doesn’t go by his birth name.

At the end of the latest episode of Christina Applegate and Jamie Lynn Sigler‘s podcast MeSsy, Ferrell participated in a game where his Anchorman co-star analyzed his personality according to his picks for his top five favorite movies. After noticing that Ferrell picked ensemble films like The Godfather and Shawshank Redemption, “where somebody would have your back,” Applegate noted that the actor may have felt that growing up, he didn’t have “a place of belonging in a group.”

Ferrell confirmed there was “a lot of validity to that” and shared a story from his childhood. “You know what’s interesting about that [analysis]? This is like a minor thing—it’s not really even trauma. I remember being so embarrassed because my real name is John. John William Ferrell,” he said.

“The first day of school, it’d be ‘John.’ Like, John Farrell,” the Elf star continued. “It was so embarrassing to me to have to say, ‘Here, but I go by Will. I don’t go by John.”

Ferrell described the experience as “excruciating,” adding that he hated “having to remind the teacher that I’m not John.” He admitted that looking back, he was perplexed as to why it was “so embarrassing” to clarify that he went by Will.

When Sigler asked why he didn’t like his birth name, Ferrell explained it “wasn’t my choice,” as his parents called him Will despite picking John as his first name.

Ferrell previously revealed his birth name while appearing on The Late Late Show With James Corden in 2020. When asked by the late night host if his name appeared on his passport as “William Ferrell,” the actor responded, “Get ready—viral moment right here: John William Ferrell.” He also shared that his father, on occasion, would use the nickname “J.W.”


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