By Abby Sandel
It isn’t just about choosing an outlandish name. It’s about finding inspiration from the wider world. Sure, the names on this list have seldom – or never – been heard in English before they appeared on birth announcements issued by their famous parents. But the names are not without a story.
Those stories can make the names appealing. When Pharrell Williams sat down with Oprah Winfrey, his comments on his son’s unusual name made it seem like a perfectly reasonable choice.
Williams isn’t the only celebrity parent to make a great case for choosing novel names.
Maybe the most noteworthy thing about this list is how many bold baby names are given to boys.
Let’s take a look at nine of the most inventively-named boys in Hollywood, and the stories behind their names.
Qirin – Empire’s Terrence Howard and wife Mira Pak have given their son the unique name Qirin Love. My first thought? Qirin was a respelling of the Sanskrit Kiran. Not so. The couple took the name from a mythological Chinese creature, half-lion and half-dragon. It’s also called a qilin and a kirin. The latter is the name preferred in Japan, where Kirin is a major corporation known for everything from real estate to beer. It’s a surprising, original choice. With Phoenix soaring up the popularity charts, Qirin might catch on.
Draco – A handful of Harry Potter names have gone mainstream. Too bad Draco Malfoy is such a villain. Otherwise, his name – the Latin for dragon, and also a constellation – could have been a hit. Child actor turned mathematics evangelist Danica McKellar gave the name to her son in 2010. 42 boys were named Draco in 2014, which means that it’s still pretty rare, but far more popular than Qirin.
Zolten – Let’s take one more from the realm of imaginary beasts, this time the son of comedian-magician Penn Jillette. Jillette and wife Emily named their daughter Moxie CrimeFighter, so the world was watching when their son arrived in 2006. Penn quipped that Zolten was the name of Dracula’s dog. True, at least in 1978 horror flick Zoltan, Hound of Dracula. It’s also Emily’s surname, and spelled with an ‘a’, it’s a relatively common name in Hungary. But the Jillette philosophy on baby naming is very pro-unique names. He once said, “I think it’s pretty cruel to give a kid a name that others are going to have. … It’s more friendly to go to school being the only Penn.”
Zuma – There’s something about letter Z. Zuma Nesta Rock is the middle child of musicians Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. It’s probably the boldest name from their trio, which is saying something since his brothers are Kingston and Apollo. Gwen and Gavin were inspired by Malibu, California’s Zuma Beach, a place known for excellent surfing near their family home.
Tennessee – Reese Witherspoon helped propel the name Ava to the top of the popularity charts when she chose it for her daughter with Ryan Phillippe in 1999. Reese and Ryan are also parents to son Deacon. But the name that makes this list is Reese’s new arrival, her son with new husband Jim Toth. Reese has joked that her 2012-born son has a “redneck” name. Tennessee was inspired the town where Reese grew up: Nashville, Tennessee.
Five – The Novogratz design firm is headed by husband-and-wife property developers and designers, Robert and Cortney. From their reality television series to their line for CB2, the family is always in the news. Around here, though, they’re most famous for the daring baby names they’ve given to all seven of their children: Wolfgang, Bellamy, Tallulah, Breaker, Five, Holleder, and Major. Five is kid number five, and Cortney has explained that the name was simply inspired by their wish for a fifth child. When asked if it was difficult to name seven kids, Cortney quipped, “Well, if you pick crazy names, it doesn’t really matter.”
Rocket – Speaking of big families, director Robert Rodriguez often makes crazy celebrity baby name lists for the names of his four sons: Rebel, Rocket, Rogue, and Racer. He and ex-wife Elizabeth Avellan are also parents to daughter Rhiannon. The boys’ names came from a book listing dog names. They’re not the only high-profile family with a Rocket. Sam Worthington and Laura Bingle gave the name to a son just a few months ago. Pharrell Williams and Helen Lasichanh have a Rocket, too. During an interview with Oprah, Pharrell attributed his son’s name to two things: his affection for songs by Stevie Wonder, Elton John, and Herbie Hancock with rocket in the titles, as well as the idea that a rocket is meant to ascend. As Oprah said, “definitely a kid who’s born to soar.”
Pilot – Jason Lee’s firstborn is a staple on lists of craziest celebrity baby names. But let’s take a step back. It’s an occupational name, and with Jett and Skye in the US Top 1000, it’s obvious that the clear blue yonder can inspire parents. Like Pharrell’s Rocket, Jason Lee’s Pilot owes his name to musical influences. Jason and his ex, Beth Riesgraf, took the name from a song by indie rockers Grandaddy.
Kal–El – The most interesting thing about Kal–El? It’s the only name on this list that currently charts in the US Top 1000. Kal–El is also Nicolas Cage’s son with wife Alice Kim. Cage spent years working with Tim Burton on a possible Superman adaptation that never took off. As any good fan knows, Kal–El was the Man of Steel’s birth name back home on the planet Krypton. It’s possible that Kalel is also used as a spelling variation of Khalil. Then again, Superman has been leaping tall buildings in a single bound since 1938, long enough to have inspired plenty of parents.
Do the stories behind these names make them more appealing? Would you use a daring, out-there baby name if it had special significance to you?