Every new movie season seems to bring with it a few character names that jump out for their distinctive baby name potential, and these past few months were no exception. We saw new names that are right on trend — vintage nicknames, gender switches, literary characters, and surname names. Here are 12 of the best — some of which might even catch on!
“The Zookeeper’s Wife,” a true story set in 1939 Poland, features Jessica Chastain as heroic Antonina Zabinski. Heard in Russia, Italy, and Poland, Antonina is a daintier diminutive of Antonia that becomes a lovely possibility.
James Franco plays an over-the-top, extravagantly tattooed Silicon Valley millionaire character named Laird Mayhew in the comedy, “Why Him?”. The name Laird, is a Scottish title for the landed gentry and may have been given facetiously to this comic character. Most famous bearer is surfer Laird Hamilton; Sharon Stone picked it for her son in 2005.
Annette Bening gives a striking performance as the bohemian 1970s mother in “20th Century Women.” Despite the revivals of Dorothy and Thea, the lovely Dorothea has been left behind, just waiting for a nudge into the Top 1000. It’s already number 838 on Nameberry.
Rising young actor Asa Butterfield plays an imaginative boy in “The Space Between Us,” a romantic sci-fi film. Not quite the occupational name Gardener, surname Gardner still evokes greenery and flowers — and glamorous actress Ava.
The mighty Kong has risen again in “Kong: Skull Island,” and this time around, the leading lady of the film, played by Oscar-winning Brie Larson, is named Mason Weaver. Though Mason currently ranks at number three for boys, it has been used for girls before — Kelsey Grammar has a daughter named Mason Olivia, born in 2001.
The thriller “Nocturnal Animals,” starring Amy Adams and Jake Gyllenhaal also features Armie Hammer as Adams’s husband, Hutton Morrow. With its decidedly upscale surname feel (E.F. Hutton, anyone?), it could easily join Holden and Hunter — and was indeed a recent celeb choice.
There are not one but two Cassians in recent films. In “Rogue One,” Cassian Andor, played by Mexican actor Diego Luna, is an intelligence officer in the Rebel Alliance. There’s also a Cassian in “John Wick: Chapter 2.” This Latin saints’ name has, along with the related Cassius, a lot of potential. Also from “Rogue One”: Galen, Orson, Bodhi, Baze and Jyn.
In this Vin Diesel franchise, “Return of Xander Cage,” Rory McCann plays getaway driver Tennyson the Torch. The poet name Tennyson was used by Russell Crowe in 2006 for his second son and would make a cool choice for literary parents. Other characters in the movie: Augustus, Darius, Lazarus, Ainsley, Talon and Hawk.
Modesty and Chastity Barebone are two young sisters (brother is Credence) in “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the latest installment in the Harry Potter franchise and evidence of J. K. Rowling’s naming chops. Modesty and Chastity might not be as usable today as other virtue names like Amity and Verity. Also in this film: Newton/Newt, Queenie, Credence and Seraphina.
In “Logan,” the latest Wolverine film, set in a dystopian 2029, comic actor Stephen Merchant plays the mutant Caliban, a veteran of comics and an earlier “X-Men” film. Best known as a not so appealing Shakespearean character in The Tempest, Caliban is, nonetheless, a name with an accessible feel, rhythmic sound and friendly nickname Cal. The “X-Men” movies have already done a lot for the name Logan.
What, you may ask, is Mary doing on a list of cool new names? It’s precisely because it seems such a surprising choice for a little girl character in “Gifted,” a 2017 film. The top girls’ name for centuries, the saintly Mary still ranks at number 124.
In the latest Vin Diesel giant blockbuster, “The Fate of the Furious,” the female lead, played by Michelle Rodriguez, has the sweet vintage nickname, Letty. Originally a pet form of Letitia, it peaked at the beginning of the 20th century but has a good chance for a comeback a la Hattie and Maisie.