We all know Richard Rankin as, well, Richard Rankin. Yet, that wasn’t the name he was given at birth. Why did the Outlander actor change his name?
Richard Rankin was actually given the name Richard Harris when he was born. Harris is his father’s surname. Eventually, the actor took on his mother’s maiden name as a professional one, but why would he do that?
This happened before Outlander. It was as he started acting, a career that he didn’t initially want to do. He initially went to Glasgow Caledonian University to study IT. That’s another story, though.
Why Richard Rankin changed his name
The Outlander actor changed his name as he finished his acting education and signed applied for his Equality Card. The Equality Card is proof that he is part of the Actors’ Equity Association, which is important for U.S. and UK actors.
Why would he change his name? It’s because there was already a famous actor with the name Richard Harris. You’ll know of the Irish actor. He played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter movies. Sadly, he died after filming the second movie and Dumbledore was recast with Michael Gambon taking on the role.
Rankin didn’t want people to get him confused with Richard Harris. The best thing to do was change his name, but he still kept it in the family.
It’s not uncommon for actors to change their name professionally. Usually, this is due to other actors or performers already having the same name. The best thing to do is change things to help make it easier for fans and for those casting for movies, TV shows, theater productions, and more. Could you imagine how some people could be overlooked with just a glance at the name?