Will Ferrell Says He Grew Up Completely Embarrassed by His Real First Name

Though the name “Will Ferrell” carries immense prestige today, it conceals a dark secret that haunted Ferrell on every first day of school he ever attended.

Anyone familiar with Ferrell’s work would reasonably assume that it would be exceptionally hard to embarrass the Saturday Night Live legend. After all, we’ve seen Ferrell semi-to-fully-nude and screaming nonsensically in roughly $2.6 billion worth of various box-office successes, but we never once saw him blush. However, there is one way to humiliate the Anchorman and Elf star that’s stood the test of time since his very birth — call him by his real name. 

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Like many such stars, the moniker Ferrell sports for the posters and credits of his blockbuster comedies (sort of) isn’t the one that’s on his driver’s license, and the stage name of “Will Ferrell” wasn’t what teachers called him in elementary school.

On Christina Applegate and Jamie-Lynn Sigler's podcast MeSsy, Ferrell confessed the shame he’s carried with him his whole life and revealed how, every year growing up, it would return to haunt him during the first week of school. As it turns out, Will Ferrell’s full name is actually John William Ferrell — how humiliating.

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“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, so first day of school, I’d be John,” Ferrell explained of his horrific and unholy Christian name. “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 that, in that harrowing first week of school each year, it was “excruciating to me” to have to patiently correct every teacher each time they cursed him with the revolting title “John” as he insisted that they address him by the less nauseating name “Will.” “It wasn’t my choice,” Ferrell said of the burden he’s carried with him his whole life. “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.”

“I don’t know why that was so embarrassing to me to have to explain ‘I’m actually Will,’” Ferrell reflected, lamenting, “People are probably going to be listening to this going ‘That is the lamest thing ever.’”

On the contrary, Ferrell’s admission is the lesser of two lame evils. Imagine the horror and confusion that would have occurred if he and John C. Reilly had to share a name. How would they ever become best friends?