Today marks the release of "Youth in Revolt," the darkly funny comedy based on the beloved novel of the same name. It stars Michael Cera as a kid named Nick Twisp who, in order to attract a girl named Sheeni (played by Portia Doubleday), invents a French alter-ego named Francois Dillinger. Dillinger represents Twisp's "dangerous" side and gets him into all manner of trouble. The film, directed by Miguel Arteta ("The Good Girl," "Chuck & Buck") has been getting largely positive reviews, especially for Cera's performance as both Twisp and Dillinger. (Cera himself has been exploring an alter-ego of his own.)
In inventing a new persona for himself, Cera's character follows in a long line of great musicians who have built alter-egos and recorded music — sometimes entire albums in alternate careers — as said characters. David Bowie was the first to make this into a big deal, as he shape-shifted from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to Nathan Adler (from Outside) and back again throughout his career. Garth Brooks embarked on one of the biggest boondoggles of his otherwise epic career when he walked the Earth as Chris Gaines for a while. Eminem often talks about the differences between Marshall Mathers and Slim Shady (in fact, every member of his D12 crew had two separate personas). New York Dolls singer David Johansen found the biggest success of his career when he reinvented himself as Buster Poindexter, and My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James recently recorded as Yim Yames.