Made the Name Simpler for the Movie

I’ve noticed this trend, esp[ecially with sf genre films – they take a somewhat complicated name in the book, graphic novel, or play and “streamline” it when they adapt it as a movie:

  1. Not a genre film, but in this case I can see why they did it. James Fenimore Cooper’s character nicknamed Hawkeye and Leatherstocking is really named Natty Bumppo. really. “Natty Bumppo” is a name that it’s hard to take seriously, but it fit te cantankerous somewhat comic figure of the character in his old age in his first appearance in The Pioneers. When Cooper revisited the character in his youth, he made him virtually a superhero, and started calling him by a lot of more appropriate aliases and nicknames.

When they made the 1992 movie adaptation of The Last of the Mohivans with Daniel Day Lewis, someone must have looked at the handsome leading man and decided “There’s no way we’re calling him Natty Bumppo.” So he became simple Nathaniel Poe.

  1. John Farris’ 1976 novel The Fury had a Bad Guy named Ben Childermass. When they adapted it as a film two years later he became Ben Childress.

  2. Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child’s debut novel together was the 1996 The Rel;ic, in which the Kothoga tribe in South America worships a creature/demon called the Mbwun. Two years later it became a movie, and they decided not to go with the unpronounceable name, so they switched the name of the tribe and the creature, which now became the Kothoga.

  3. In the same book and movie, Dr. Greg Kawakita in the novel became Dr. Greg Lee.

  4. In Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the name of one of the female lead characters, who is bitten by Dracula repeatedly and becomes a vampire herself, is Lucy Westenra. Her name has been changed in many of the plays and movies when her relationship to the other characters is changed for dramatic purposes, but the relevant name change for this thread is that her name was shortened to Lucy Weston by people who apparently didn’t care for that final “-ra”. It was changed for the Universal 1931 film (and the Spanish language version, as well) and for the 1968 TV adaptation
    I seem to dimly recall many other cases, but can’t call them directly to mind. Maybe other Dopers can suggest similar cases.

Mind, I’m not looking for wholesale changes of name, just cases where the name is simplified for easy handling, or switched with another character because the name was too hard to handle. (as with the Mbwun/Kothoga)

Not a movie but I’ve wondered why the Scara Brae ruins were never anglicized into Scarbury.

I don’t know why the family name in the Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson drama, Before and After, was changed to Ryan. In the far superior Rosellen Brown novel, on which it is based, it is Reiser. All the Christian names are the same. Having read the novel years before it struck me as odd when I saw the movie.

In The NeverEnding Story novel by Michael Ende the world is called “Fantastica”. In the movie it is “Fantasia”. It bothers me because the rather more famous Fantasia movie by Disney causes you to wonder if there’s a connection. It’s not like pronunciation is any easier, they are each of equal complexity.

Let’s see:

Barbarella: Gronf II became Durand Durand (not be confused with Durand, who was Barbarella’s ally, and renamed to Prof. Ping in the movie).

Congo: Charles Munro > Munro Kelly.

The Dark Knight Rises: Roland Daggett > John Daggett.

Grease: Sandy Dumbrowski > Sandy Olsen (maybe to sound more Australian, since it was Olivia Newton-John)

The Island of Doctor Moreau: Edward Prendick > Edward Parker (1933); Andrew Braddock (1977); Edward Douglas (1996).

V for Vendetta Adam Susan > Adam Sutler

Doctor Who and the Daleks> The Doctor is actually called Doctor Who.

In The Incredible Hulk television series, Bruce Banner’s name was changed to David Banner.

Mr. Zero from the comic book became Mr. Freeze for the Batman TV show.

Don’t know if this meets the criteria, but in “October Sky” the father of the main character, Homer, was renamed John as they didn’t want two folks in the movie with the same name. Actually it does meet the criteria as John is a simpler name than Homer.

In The Martian, going from book to film, Venkat Kapoor became Vincent Kapoor.

In the screen adaptation of Double Indemnity, Walter Huff became Walter Neff, and Phylis Nirdlinger became Phylis Dietrichson. In the latter case, the improvement is apparent; not sure about the former.

This is one of the ones I was trying to think of. I think they thought the name “Prendick” was too unfamiliar for moviegoers.

Another one just occurred to me, but the reasoning behind it is different

In Ralph Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings they changed “Saruman” to “Aruman”. It reportedly wasn’t Bakshi’s choice. Apparently the Powers That Be thought that the audience would be confused by the similarity between “Sauron” and “Saruman”. Thank Iluvatar that Peter Jackson didn’t have the same advisors.

In the book 2010: Odyssey Two, the computer scientist who had created HAL was named Dr. Sivasubramanian Chandrasegarampillai (Dr. Chandra for short), and was of Indian descent. In the film, he was simply named Dr. R. Chandra, and, as he was played by Bob Balaban, was pretty clearly no longer Indian.

Depending on whose story you believe, the change was made because:

  • “Bruce Banner” followed a comic-book trope of characters whose first and last names start with the same letter, and the producer didn’t want to make the TV show feel too comic book-y
  • There was, in that era, a perception that “Bruce” was a stereotypically gay name
  • The producer wanted to name the main character after his son

Of course, all the criminals and witnesses in the radio and TV Dragnet had their names changed.


In the 1908 novel The Blue Lagoon, the main characters name their son Hannah because they don’t know it’s a girl’s name. Perhaps because the writers didn’t want to explain the incongruity, the 1980 movie adaptation calls the baby Paddy, after the sailor who was shipwrecked with them.

Gnut, klatu barada nicto.

In Italy Moana was changed to Vaiana, apparently to avoid confusion with a notorious pornstar.

The Bonnie Parker Story (1958) tells her tale of infamy alongside her partner in crime, Guy Darrow.

In Blade (1998), Stephen Dorff plays the heavy, Deacon Frost. One of the sequels (Blade II?) refers to him as Damien Frost.

I was going to mention that one - but they weren’t consistent, either, and ended up calling him Saruman some of the time, too.