Why Kat Dennings Decided To Change Her Name

When we think of celebrities who changed their birth name, someone like Lady Gaga or Lana Del Rey first comes to mind. Their stage personas sound like they were specifically engineered for maximum star quality: memorable, glamorous, a bit fantastical, and rolling off the tongue with ease. 

In contrast, while "Kat Dennings" has a nice ring to it, it could believably be the "2 Broke Girls" actor's real name. In fact, most people don't know that it's not. While she hasn't gone to any lengths to hide her pre-Hollywood name, Dennings seems completely okay with people not knowing it. After all, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, and not everyone's birth name suits them.

Years after the fact, Dennings seems to have made the right call by changing her name when moving to Hollywood. While she likely would have been successful either way, it's hard to imagine the MCU actor going by anything else. That said, she still gets asked about her birth name once in a while and why she changed it.

Kat Dennings thinks her family name is 'hideous'

Unfortunately, there's no juicy conspiracy when it comes to Kat Dennings' early career name change; it simply comes down to a matter of preference. Born as Katherine Victoria Litwack, Dennings has gone on record voicing her displeasure for the name. In 2008, she told Philadelphia Magazine, "I didn't want to use my family name because I thought, A, it was a little hideous, and B, I wanted to know when someone really knew me or they didn't. I was a precocious youngster."

Given how many hangers-on celebrities can attract, the name change is a really clever call. While it only takes five seconds to search someone's real name on IMDb or Wikipedia, most people probably just assume that "Kat Dennings" is the "Dollface" actor's real name. Then, based on what they call her, she can then determine whether they're pre-Hollywood or post-Hollywood. Dennings went on to reveal the origin of her loathed surname in her Philly Mag interview. "It's a sturdy Polish-Jewish name," she said. "I used to be really touchy about it, but I couldn't care less now. And Katherine has Katie, Kat, and if you want to die, Kathy, but no one can go there — no one."

Despite opting for a stage name, Dennings has been more than vocal about her Jewish heritage over the years.

Kat Dennings is proud of her background

She may not go by Katherine Litwack anymore, but Kat Dennings has never concealed her Jewish identity. In fact, it even came up in one of her breakout roles. In the 2008 romantic comedy "Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist," Dennings' character Norah talks about Judaism throughout the film. In one scene, Norah shares the concept of tikkun olam with Michael Cera's Nick, a Jewish principle of repairing the world through social justice.

Judaism also factored into Dennings' first big role, where she played a foul-mouthed tween on "Sex and the City." In the Season 3 episode, Samantha Jones planned the Bat Mitzvah for Dennings' character Jenny and was surprised by the adult conversations taking place. Knowing Samantha, that's saying something! 

In real life, Dennings identifies more with the cultural side of Judaism than the religious one. In a 2008 interview with the Jewish Journal, she said that she was unfamiliar with the term before reading the "Nick & Norah" script, and needed to ask people on set what it meant and how to pronounce it. That said, Dennings still went on to describe herself as "a billion percent Jewish. I don't think I have any relatives who aren't Jewish." She added, "It's a background thing, but I'm proud to be Jewish." While we're unlikely to see Katherine Litwack in the credits of any upcoming films or shows, it's clear that Kat Dennings embraces where she came from.