Pop culture

Will Kate Winslet change her name to Kate Rocknroll?

Dec. 27, 2012 at 4:31 PM ET

Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll
Tyrone Siu / REUTERS file
Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll

So everyone knows a woman doesn't have to change her name when she gets married, but come on, Kate Winslet, don't you want to be "Kate Rocknroll"?

Winslet's wedding earlier this month was a surprise, but more surprising to many was the name of her groom: Ned Rocknroll.

The wedding was a hush-hush ceremony, so it's not clear if his musical last name was engraved in careful calligraphy on Crane invitations. And Winslet will likely continue to act under her current name, since she didn't change it when she wed Jim Threapleton or Sam Mendes.

As you might guess, "Rocknroll" isn't her new husband's real name. He was born Ned Abel Smith, but don't mind that fairly generic last name. There's a more famous name in his family tree -- he's the nephew of Sir Richard Branson, founder of Virgin Group, and works for Virgin Galactic, which hopes to sell flights into space in the near future. (His title is reportedly "head of astronaut relations and marketing," which is almost as good as "Rocknroll.")

The name change came about in 2008. "The whole thing was about having fun with your name," his then-wife, Eliza Pearson, told the British newspaper The Daily Mail. "He thought we all took ourselves too seriously so it was about reacting against it. He looked into just being ‘Ned’, with no surname at all but, apparently, that’s illegal so we couldn’t do it."

Pearson (no word on whether she was ever known as "Eliza Rocknroll") told the paper she learned about the legal name change one day when her then-fiance emailed her a photo of his new passport.

"It was hysterical. We had discussed him doing this many times before, but I wasn’t sure whether he’d do it," she said.

A photo of their 2009 wedding shows the bride and groom posed between four friends who are bending over, rear ends to the camera, and who have the letters ROCKNROLL written on their white pants.

He's not the only celebrity to change his last name to something unusual. Football player Chad Johnson changed his last name to "Ochocinco" in 2008. "Ocho cinco" translates as "eight five," and 85 ("ochenta y cinco") is Johnson's Cincinnati Bengals' uniform number. He changed it back in 2012.

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