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Alter-Ego Acting

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Above: Stephen Colbert, humble liberal satirist.
Below: Stephen Colbert, egotistical conservative pundit. No, they aren't the same person.
"I've created a monster
Cuz nobody wants to see Marshall no more
They want Shady — I'm chopped liver!"

It can be said that some roles take on a life of their own, separate from the actor that plays them. Fox Mulder lives more vividly in our collective imagination than David Duchovny; Leonard Nimoy was so eclipsed by his character in Star Trek that he titled his autobiographies I Am Not Spock and (once he'd made his peace with it) I Am Spock respectively.

However, some actors not only allow the character this existence, they actively cultivate them as a person as real as any other person walking around. This is usually done in one of a couple of ways.

  1. The first way is to portray the individual as an entirely separate person while acknowledging the existence of the actor. The character may refer to the actor in the third person, or vice versa.
  2. The second version is to entirely subsume the "real" actor in the role. In this case, the actor is never mentioned by the character and the actor almost never appears in "public".
  3. The third method is when the actor acknowledges the character is "them", but somehow a "different" them. This is the least frequently seen, most subtle version, and the mechanism of this change in personality is not consistent, further making it more difficult to recognize.

See also Adam Westing, where a celebrity's public persona is a self-parody, but still uses their real name. A sort of opposite of this trope where fictional characters act like their own actors is found in the trope Animated Actors.

In a case of Real Life Writes the Plot, Alter Ego Acting isn't limited to the actors themselves; many of the fans, especially with sci-fi or fantasy series (like the Furry Fandom) use this trope to various levels in regards to their internet personas. In a reversal to the trope being applied to the actors, the third method is usually the most used, to the point where the fans refuse to respond to anything but their alter ego's name. Typically, though, the alter ego has enough personality quirks that only work within the confines of fantasy, the alter ego is unable to be fully emulated in the 'real world' during standard, off-line living and, thus, their real selves are markedly different, no matter how much they try.


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    Type 1 

  • Dame Edna Everage, who refers to Barry Humphries as her "entrepreneur" or manager.
  • Andy Kaufman pretended to have a difficult working relationship with his alter ego, Tony Clifton. His dedication to making Tony a separate persona went as far as appearing on stage with him - "him" actually being a friend (usually Andy's close colleague Bob Zmuda) dressed as Clifton and imitating Andy's Clifton voice.
    • It went further than that, actually; Andy would go far out of his way to do things in character that he would never have done as himself. When he was disguised as Tony, he chain-smoked cigarettes, never turned down a free drink, and ate red meat without blinking an eye — all guaranteed to shock anyone who knew that it was Andy Kaufman (a fairly straight-edge vegan) behind that mustache.
    • It went even further when Andy permanently passed the Tony persona on to Bob Zmuda circa 1982. Bob was convincing enough that many people didn't realize for years that he had taken over the role; as revealed by Jim Carrey in the 1994 Comedy Salute to Andy Kaufman special, a good half of Tony's TV appearances were done by Bob and not Andy. (Speaking of Carrey, see below...) After Andy's death, Bob reprised the character at a tribute/benefit, and Tony still occasionally resurfaces via several performers. This raised it to Charlie Brown from Outta Town level.
  • Japanese television personality Masaki Sumitani does not respond to being called by the name of his alter ego, Razer Ramon HG (a.k.a. Hard Gay, a.k.a. HG-kun). He has, however, left fans briefly, changed into costume, and "sent" HG-kun to fulfill their interview requests. When ambushed on a TV program with his shades off, he realized there was a camera pointed at him, hid his face and scrambled for his hat and sunglasses to get into character.
  • Dan Aykroyd as Elwood Blues. In fact, bonus material from the House of Blues Radio Hour even features Elwood interviewing Dan about his work with Jim Belushi, as the "Dancing Refrigerators". In another example, John Landis gets interviewed and treats Elwood and Dan as totally different people
  • Paul Reubens tended to portray Pee-Wee Herman as a completely separate person, even billing the character as being played by "himself" in movie credits. He had never been interviewed as Paul Reubens until the film Mystery Men came out. Even then he managed to get through the first few minutes of the interview without saying a word, responding with nodding or shaking his head until forced to answer a non-yes/no question.
    Jay Leno- "Okay, what time is it?"
    Paul - (presses button on talking watch)
  • Daniel Handler shows up at "Lemony Snicket's" book signings as a representative of Mr. Snicket, or sometimes "Mr. Snicket's Handler", and tells fans that the author was detained by some unfortunate accident. This is a slight variation since while Handler writes under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, he never "plays" Snicket in public. He would occasionally give an interview where he acknowledged Snicket's fictionality, making him a type 3 as well.
    • This trope was inverted, subverted, and played with 6 ways from Sunday on the DVD commentary, featuring Handler in character as Snicket, with director Brad Silberling. Silberling tries to claim that Jim Carrey was replaced by the real Count Olaf, and Snicket plays along at first. After a while, he becomes bored and begins accusing Silberling of lying to him. So we have the real author playing his fictional creation critiquing a real actor under fake circumstances while the real director claims that his real film features the fictional author's fictional character for real.
  • In an unusual journalistic example, Hunter S. Thompson created a public persona that played up his flaws and general craziness to a point where he mirrored as much as reported the nastiness, paranoia, and absurdity around him. Often, this was under the name of Raoul Duke; just as often, it wasn't, falling into the third type of Alter-Ego Acting.
  • Many pro wrestlers fall into this in Real Life, especially when Kayfabe was in high reign, but Mick Foley is probably the only one who made it actually part of his gimmick; in the later part of his WWE run, it was openly acknowledged that he had three "faces" that he would put on as the situation demanded (Dude Love, Cactus Jack, and Mankind), as well as his own normal persona that was rarely seen in the ring.
    • TNA recently resurrected this aspect of Mick Foley's character, as Mick "interviewed" Cactus Jack; as the mock interview went on, Cactus took on a life of his own, accusing Foley of being a craven sellout cashing in on the fame that Cactus had earned by sacrificing their shared body, something Foley would never have done if it were up to him.
  • Gregory Helms, best known for his Superhero gimmick of "the Hurricane," would at times appear on WWE TV as a reporter under his own name.
  • Sacha Baron-Cohen attempts to portray his various characters as real people completely separate from himself. He has sometimes referred to himself as a separate person while in character. Responding to critics of his film Borat, he assumed the character of Borat to join in on the criticism, leveling anti-Semitic slurs against himself. When promoting his films, he usually insists on appearing in-character.
    • A strange example of this: on Australian program Rove Live, Sacha was playing Brüno (2009) while promoting the film of the same name. When Rove did his usual "20 bucks in 20 seconds" questionnaire, his final question was for Bruno to tell Rove what he thought of a picture of Borat, to which Bruno replied that Borat was "an incredibly racist stereotype" and "he's played by Sacha Baron-whatever, right? Yeah, he really can't act".
  • John Clark played Fred Dagg for many years, with the character being treated as essentially real, with other media and interviews playing along. Since everybody knew Fred Dagg, John Clark could not be himself or play any other roles, and eventually left New Zealand partly to escape the role.
  • Stephen Colbert's "Stephen Colbert" persona, discussed below, has another persona, Ching Chong Ding Dong, an offensive portrayal of a Chinese person. "Stephen Colbert" argues that he cannot be held responsible for the actions "Ching Chong" does, since "Ching Chong" did it, not "Stephen."
  • In a number of his late novels (after he'd pretty much lost his marbles), Philip K. Dick used characters named Phil Dick and Horselover Fat (the rough meanings of his two names) to try to parse out his spiritual beliefs and experiences.
  • Near the height of Garth Brooks' career in country music, he released an alternative rock album under the pseudonym In the Life of Chris Gaines. He clearly played it as though he was creating a character, going so far as to release a VH-1 mockumentary, and hosting SNL as Garth Brooks but being the musical guest as Chris Gaines.
  • Related: sometimes avatars in the online virtual reality Second Life refer to their "typists" (or similar terms), making a distinction between the character and the human playing him/her/it: e.g. "Sorry I have to go, but my typist is making me go to bed." The consistency with which this convention is applied varies greatly, with some always maintaining character and others using it as an occasional joke.
    • The same is true of online role-playing in general, where those who use MUCKs, MMORPGs, and other real-time roleplay programs (or just roleplay through online messengers) will speak in-character of their "player" needing to leave/eat/go to the bathroom/sleep. This can be Played for Laughs through a bit of Black Comedy, as when the character really would like to continue but can't, so threatens the "player" for making them have to leave.
  • Sharp-tongued Lily Savage was always entirely separate from her actor Paul O'Grady, and he usually spoke of her as if she was a completely different person. For example, when he got people asking him to perform as Lily again, his usual reply was "She's gone off to join the convent."
  • Anthony Fantano of the music review The Needle Drop has a slightly offbeat silly "roommate" Cal Chuchesta, that pops up time to time and sometimes gets his own reviews. Even in Anthony's more frank and candid videos, he always asserts that Cal is a completely different person.
  • The members of GWAR would sometimes open shows as the band "X-Cops." In the mid-90s it was spun off as a new band made up of non-GWAR members.
    • This was also done by Spinal Tap who perform in character (they are actually actors). Christopher Guest as well as many of the other writers and actors from Spinal Tap made a similar mockumentary called A Mighty Wind. They did one show in which the band from Mighty Wind opened for Spinal Tap. They were booed off the stage by fans who were either unaware or uncaring that they were the same people.
  • For some time, Devo did the same thing, opening for themselves as "Dove (the Band of Love)". At first, they were hippies, but during the '80s they became a parody of right-wing Christian Rock and even captured and brain-washed Devo's mascot Booji Boy during a show. Devo's music was held as Satanic and horrible, despite the fact that Dove played an awful lot of covers.
    • And then there's Booji Boy himself, who is Mark Mothersbaugh in a baby mask singing with a disturbing falsetto.
  • John Lydon invented the Johnny Rotten persona to handle public appearances, as he (Rotten) says he's (Lydon) extremely shy in real life. Depending on whether he's promoting The Sex Pistols and gonzo work or Public Image Ltd., he appears as either Rotten or Lydon.
  • In Pappy's Flatshare Slamdown, Tom always plays the Beef Brothers round as Fanshawe Standon.
    Matthew: Thomas, to conclude the case for the defence, are you going to be doing it as yourself?
    Tom: No, I'm going to be defending in the style of a John Grisham, deep southern American lawyer, Mr. Fanshawe Standon.
  • A lot of anniversary specials for cartoon characters (particularly the Warner Bros. characters) will portray them as actual people, even when interviews are done with the directors, animators, and voice actors, none of whom bother to continue with the charade (which make the proceedings all the more confusing). They even go as far as to have celebrities give anecdotes about occasions where Bugs, Daffy, and the rest worked with them or met their families.
  • The 2017 revival of The Gong Show was hosted by Tommy Maitland, who is supposedly a British comedian and television presenter who came out of retirement to make his debut on American television, but is actually a character portrayed by Mike Myers. Myers made appearances on other shows promoting the show in character, other people associated with the revival maintain the fiction that Tommy Maitland is a real person, and Myers' name appears nowhere in the show's credits. This was eventually dropped for season 2; Myers publically admitted he was Maitland, and Myers' name was added to the credits.
  • YouTuber JoCat has JoCrap, the host of his A Crap Guide series, an aggressive and crass Caustic Critic. Jo himself has regularly made it clear that him and JoCrap are not one and the same, and many episodes of A Crap Guide portray the two as separate people.
  • During the publicity for The Nan Movie, Catherine Tate did interviews in-character, including Nan complaining about this Catherine woman who was playing her younger self in the Flashbacks. It was also Nan who attended the premier.

    Type 2 

  • Daft Punk never appeard in public without helmets on and hadn't been photographed as themselves in ages. There are currently only one or two pictures of them without their helmets or another face obstructing item.
  • The major cast of Trailer Park Boys appear in character almost constantly, even including "behind the scenes" commentary on the DVD for the show.
  • Carroll Spinney, who portrays Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, supposedly refused to do Sesame Street-related interviews out of character.
    • Company policy at Jim Henson Co. was that the actors and puppeteers who play the various Muppet characters are not allowed to engage anyone in an on-camera interview.
    • However both Henson and Spinney made separate appearances on the syndicated version of What's My Line??
    • Played with during the Muppet appearance on The West Wing. Nobody broke character or showed the puppeteers behind the puppets.
    • This one varies. Sometimes, the appearance on the talk show/cooking show/other show has the characters appear and does its best to hide the puppeteer(s). Other times (more rarely, but mostly with Henson himself, Frank Oz, and the majority of guest Muppet performers at the Muppetfest convention in 2001), the puppeteer and puppet will co-exist, with the puppeteers talking about their character while still slipping back into character to talk with the host/moderator(s), any other characters making an appearance, or the puppeteer him/herself. (It's a little trippy, which is probably just how Henson liked it.). Lastly (and most rarely), it's just the puppeteer, which mostly happens on Muppet fansites (though even then it can slip into the second type).
  • The members of Finnish heavy metal band Lordi make all of their public appearances in the elaborate monster costumes they wear onstage and have gone to unusual lengths to keep their real names secret from the public. (Indeed, the band's first demo video has never been released to the public because it shows the singer, "Mr. Lordi", with no mask.)
    • When a gossip magazine showed a picture of Lordi without his mask (on the cover, no less), it created a massive backlash and tens of thousands of fans signing a petition of boycotting the magazine, eventually resulting in a public apology from it.
      • Part of this is because all the members of the band are very private people, actually working in a normal job as well as being a monster rocker or both. Amen, for instance, is a web designer, and at least one of the members is a music teacher.
  • Sometimes GWAR appears out of costume as RAWG; other times, they appear in costume and in character on daytime TV, where Hilarity Ensues.
  • Likewise, the Australian rock-band TISM made a point of never appearing (on stage or for interviews) without wearing some sort of identity-concealing outfit and referred to each other only by their stage names (such as Ron Hitler-Barassi and Humphrey B. Flaubert).
  • Experimental rock band The Residents have never been seen without their masks, never dropped out of character in public, and have never released their real names. They've managed to keep their identities a secret for 40 years. It is, however, long been suspected that "The Cryptic Corporation," a group of two "spokesmen" who speak for the band in all interviews, are actually the creative core of the band. The Cryptic Corporation admits to collaborating with the Residents but always denies that they are actual band members.
  • When Jim Carrey was cast as Andy Kaufman in Man on the Moon he stayed in character(s) for the duration of the shoot (see above and below); this included not responding to his own name. (In addition, after the shoot was completed, Tony Clifton was discussed in Type One terms by all the participants.)
    • A really bizarre case was when "Kaufman" went auditioning for How the Grinch Stole Christmas!. The Dr. Seuss estate rejected him, but then Carrey broke out of that character and did a Grinch impersonation that got him the role.
  • Mana from Moi Dix Mois (formerly Malice Mizer) is almost never seen out of costume, out of character (e.g. speaking), or out in public. When he has been, it's usually by accident/some sort of freakish fluke.
    • And when he is photographed out of costume, nine times out of ten his face is mostly obscured by a large hat and sunglasses, and he's wearing bulky black clothing. He even appears like this when he's caught out suddenly by stray fans or photographers, which seems to suggest that this 'incognito' look is genuinely what he wears on a day to day basis.
  • Jane Turner and Gina Riley rarely appear out of character as Kath & Kim.
  • Larry the Cable Guy used to simply be a role Daniel Lawrence Whitney would use on stage in his comedy routine, but it eventually took over his entire persona in all work he did - film, television, interviews, et cetera. He even wrote a book in-character, littered with grammatical errors. Whitney will usually break character for a few seconds once or twice per show as part of a joke.
  • Rob Potylo used to record albums, play concerts, and make appearances on radio shows or at comedy clubs as Robby Roadsteamer, a trashy Jerkass Guttural Growler initially inspired by the way he saw singers for local nu-metal bands carry themselves on stage. He did some interviews as himself where he'd acknowledge Robby Roadsteamer as a character, but for the most part, he would never appear publicly as himself. The character eventually got retired because he was concerned that if he kept it up too long he'd be pigeonholed - nowadays he makes music as himself rather than the character. It's since been joked that Robby Roadsteamer still exists, he just hasn't been heard from in years because he and his band left the Boston music scene for Western Massachusetts.
  • Comedian Leigh Francis has hardly ever appeared on TV as himself. He is currently known as Keith Lemon but has previously been Avid Merrion, The Bear, and singer Craig David note .
  • Daniel Day-Lewis has a major case of this, as he heavily researches his film roles to get into character - months before shooting even begins. When he's involved in the production process of films like Last of the Mohicans, Gangs of New York, There Will Be Blood and many others, he won't refer to himself as anything other than the name of his character on or off-set. One story mentions that this has caused at least one friendship to break down - Liam Neeson won't even talk to Day-Lewis anymore because, when they were exercising together during an off day while filming Gangs, Day-Lewis wouldn't respond to Neeson calling him his real name - he would only speak if he was referred to as "Bill The Butcher".
  • In an unusual subversion, comedian Andrew Clay Silverstein has been practically forced into a sort of Type 2 version of this trope. His character, Andrew "Dice" Clay, is seen as such an over the top misogynist and homophobe that fans and detractors alike are unable or unwilling to separate the actor from his character, despite the profound difference between his real and assumed personalities, and his more recent attempts to distance himself from "The Diceman". This hasn't been helped by many other performers refusing to perform or appear with Silverstein, even out-of-character.
    • The mistake he made was refusing to ever break character for so long that most people assumed the Diceman was a real guy.
  • Conservative commentator Wally George ended up taking a similar path to Clay's. Normally kind and soft-spoken, he adopted a wildly-exaggerated, over-the-top angry persona for his talk show Hot Seat. When that became a hit, Wally kept the persona for most (if not all) of his further public appearances, behaving in the same blustery manner and saying the same anti-feminist and anti-gay stuff he'd say on Hot Seat, maintaining the act up until his death. Even though he continued to treat his guests cordially off-camera, Wally's refusal to break character publically meant that many Hot Seat fans…as well as people viewing his show today…took his comments at face value and made him out to be a much nastier, closed-minded guy than he really was.
  • The one pure example of this at the Eurovision Song Contest was with Iceland's Silvia Night. Night, portrayed by Ágústa Eva Erlendsdóttir (significantly harder to roll off the tongue), was a popular television character who behaved like a pampered Alpha Bitch. She didn't break character for the entirety of her time in the 2006 contest, verbally abusing contest workers, insulting the other contestants, and cursing like a sailor. Despite the reassurances from local officials that it was only a character, the poor behavior was not treated kindly, and she was eliminated during the semi-finals (leading to a much-viewed tirade). Interestingly, a sorta-example of this, Finland's Lordi, kept their monster makeup on the whole time and wound up winning (although their monstrous appearance didn't dictate their behavior).
    • Iceland provided another example with anti-capitalist electro-thrash BDSM group Hatari! in 2019. The members of Hatari have relatively public identities outside of Eurovision (one is a playwright, the other the son of a politician), but for all Eurovision-related interviews and appearances during the show, they were off-the-wall provocateurs in line with their intense image (particularly by testing the EBU's tolerance for political content with frequent references to Palestine's conflict with host country Israel).
  • While Chris Sievey had a musical career before becoming the papier-mache-headed Frank Sidebottom, once the character took off, Sievey was never mentioned in relation to him. Jon Ronson, who played keyboards for Frank for a while and co-wrote the Very Loosely Based on a True Story film Frank, wrote in his memoir of the time that when they first met, Sievey was wearing the head backstage and wouldn't answer to the name "Chris". Once he removed it, he seemed somewhat apologetic about "Frank"'s behaviour, but with a sense that there wasn't much that he could do about it.
  • All members of comedy band The Lancashire Hotpots all perform under pseudonyms, dressed as stereotypical "yokels". But their actual names have been revealed.

    Type 3 

  • Veteran rocker Alice Cooper often refers to the stage version of himself either directly or indirectly as someone he "becomes" when he walks out to perform. He's not shy about being seen out of character, however. He's performed many interviews and public appearances as his normal, mild-mannered self, and even lampshades the distinction in Wayne's World, where he gives his backstage entourage a short lecture on Milwaukee history.
    He also does a nightly, syndicated radio show, 'Nights with Alice Cooper' where he is very well spoken, funny and knowledgable. He tells jokes and stories about other musicians as well as interviewing his famous friends. He regularly makes the distinction between his real-life self and his stage persona on air.
    In interviews, Vincent Furnier (Alice Cooper's real name) refers to Alice Cooper in the third person and has mentioned that his children didn't think of Alice Cooper as their father when they were growing up.
  • Penn & Teller also maintain a distinct "version" of themselves for the stage. Most notably, Teller is almost never seen to speak on stage, maintaining a mute contrast to Penn Jillette's boisterous, extra-large personality. This model of themselves has been consistent even in other roles, for example in an episode of Babylon 5 where they played comedy team Reebo and Zooty. Offstage, however, Teller is known to be an articulate and engaging speaker. On occasion, when Teller speaks on camera, his face is obscured. A notable subversion is their feature-length film Penn & Teller Get Killed, in which Teller maintains his mute persona until the very end when he breaks character and speaks.
    The Fan: Everyone knows Teller doesn't speak!
  • Andy Kaufman, again, experimented extensively with different personas on stage — all of them called "Andy Kaufman," but not representative of his real personality.
  • Stephen Colbert's on-air persona as a self-centered, hypocritical, frothing-at-the-mouth strawman conservative commentator is a complete act. Questioned by Larry King, he confirmed that "I call him 'him'."
    • This became surreal when he was vetted for a position in Barack Obama's cabinet, and the fake Colbert insisted that he, the real person, could not be held responsible for the actions of a character he portrayed.
    • One episode parodied this. It featured the fake Stephen Colbert thinking he was going to interview the animated members of the cartoon band Gorillaz but was disappointed to find out he was only interviewing their creators Damon Albarn and Jamie Hewlett (after Murdoc Niccals called Stephen up and explained he couldn't make it). Stephen stormed off the set, forcing the real Stephen to fill in.
    • It got really interesting at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, where the fake Colbert "praised" George W. Bush's administration. ("'Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.' First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!")
      • While many have mocked the Bush administration for not getting the joke, it's worth noting that the opening speech was delivered by President Bush while an impersonator played his thoughts, so it's likely Bush got the joke and his staff didn't.
    • Al Gore, perhaps from fatigue, forgot which Colbert was interviewing him and casually mentioned Colbert's character to Colbert's character. Colbert's character didn't know who he was talking about.
  • Marilyn Monroe was doing a walk-and-talk interview on the street with a biographer, without drawing any attention from the public around them. She turned to the author and asked "Do you want me to be her?", then slipped into her star persona by adopting a different walk and facial expression. Immediately passersby were turning their heads, waving, and asking for autographs.
  • Former professional wrestler Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has stated that "The Rock" is his normal personality "with the volume turned way up."
  • Bob Dole apparently used to refer to himself in the third person because he felt the personality he was forced to adopt to run for president wasn't the real him.
  • William Shatner and Adam West portray fictional versions of themselves in public. This is more a case of acknowledging/playing up their hammy acting styles than assuming a different persona. (For more on this, see Adam Westing.)
    • Shatner is noticeably less hammy when conducting interviews.
  • This probably applied to Gracie Allen, who was not so much of The Ditz in Real Life as her identically-named character was.
  • The editorial staff from CollegeHumor play exaggerated versions of themselves in their skits and TV show.
  • In-character as The Nostalgia Critic, Doug Walker uses his real name, but the Critic's persona, opinions, and backstory are wholly fictional.
    • Though The Nostalgia Critic may have started as a Type 3, the argument could be made that he has moved to Type 1 over time. The Nostalgia Critic has interacted with Doug several times as a separate entity and knows himself to be a character, though distinct from Doug as actor/writer and it is set up in 'To Boldly Flee' that The Nostalgia Critic has grown beyond what Doug had intended.
    • This has led to an occasion where the Critic made various comments about a child actress's acting ability, only for fans of the Critic to email said actress that they agreed with the Critic. Holly (TGWTG webmistress) then had to email her personally to explain that the Critic is just a character and it wasn't really Doug's opinion.
    • Walker will usually go into some detail in commentaries about his conception of the character and how he has developed over time; a lot of what seems natural and spontaneous on-screen is actually very deliberately planned out.
    • Many internet critics get flack from angry fans random passers-by who think they agree with their characters about everything. The Angry Video Game Nerd gets a steady flow of hate mail for his first video, in which he bashed a genuinely good game for fun.
    • Linkara also refers to his on-screen personality as a "character", but at the same time, admits that he's just a slightly exaggerated version of himself.
    • When addressing complaints of how she treats Nella, Lindsay has also commented that The Nostalgia Chick is just a character and so is BFF Nella. In fact, if you want to see how they really are together, just check out their usually-squeeful conversations on Twitter.
      • The complaints are parodied in her second "Thanks For The Feedback!" video, where she claims that BFF Nella remains her friend despite the way she treats her because the Chick pays her to do so, showing an Alternative Character Interpretation during their first meeting (Nella: "I can see I've got my work cut out for me") and their contract renewal, where Nella is professional and very much in charge, while the Chick meekly avoids meeting her gaze.
      • But averted by The Spoony One, whom everyone has confirmed to be exactly the same (with a couple obvious exceptions) in Real Life as he is on camera. There is little functional difference between "Spoony" and Noah Antwiler.
      • Noah himself has said that this is the case but confessed that he's not as good at separating himself from the Spoony persona as Walker is with Nostalgia Critic or James Rolfe is with the Angry Video Game Nerd. This has resulted in some backlash, as seen in his Final Fantasy X review where Spoony angrily calls for people to murder fans of the game and forced Noah to do some backtracking and apologizing when people believed that he felt the same way in real life.
    • Todd in the Shadows stated that "I may exaggerate my anger a little, but I'm not a good enough actor to adopt a different persona." There is still a difference between Todd Nathanson and Todd In The Shadows, as the real Todd is friendly with the real cast, making him happy, romantic and positive about life, while the character is still a mopey, pathetic, rather creepy Basement-Dweller who harbors a crush on Lupa and acts obnoxious to the rest of TGWTG.
    • Lupa is a caricature of Allison herself, a super-patriot who loves sophomoric humor. The "character" has been retired since TGWTG folded.
    • The fact that Brad Jones does reviews and other shows on both TGWTG and his own site as himself instead of his Cinema Snob character probably makes his real self a bit more visible than other contributors who review as exaggerated "characters".
      • In an interview, Brad makes clear that when the Snob is being analytical instead of pretentious and cynical, it's his thoughts "in a snarkier and shoutier way", as the Midnight Screenings show how he's "pretty chill and laid-back in real life." At most, the Snob side emerges in real life when Brad gets really angry at a movie (i.e. Old-Fashioned).
    • Sarah Wilson admitted that Pushing Up Roses is happier and more childish than herself.
    • In-Universe, Maven of the Eventide is pretty much Elisa Hansen's character indulging her pretentious vampire fangirl side. Welshy even asked her "What facet of your character am I actually addressing right now?"
  • "Bill and Ben" from the New Zealand TV show Pulp Sport half embodies this trope - while some of their skits are pre-scripted and they act alongside other people who are also generally playing themselves, other skits (usually the ones involving physical pain) aren't scripted and the guys are reacting in genuine ways. Interestingly, Ben could be seen as just playing himself, while Bill could be seen as playing a character - his real first name is Jamie.
  • Weird case: Brazilian soccer legend Pelé refers to himself as two different persons, Edison (his birth name; the everyday person) and Pelé (the footballer).
  • Comedian Lewis Black, in reality, a very gracious and soft-spoken man whose stage persona is a loud, profane near-lunatic. He said in one interview "If I was that person all the time, I would die."
  • As in the page quote, Eminem uses three alter egos in his music: Marshall Mathers, the quiet, slightly disturbed kid and loving father; Eminem, the self-assured, cocky rapper who often functions as a Greek Chorus to the other alter egos; and Slim Shady, a brutal, murderous troublemaker, Anti-Role Model and Undiscriminating Addict who leaves a trail of outrageous violence and chaos wherever he goes. Eminem often deliberately blurs the line between these three personas, and switches between them using changes of lyrical subject matter and changes in his voice and accent - on his first major label album, The Slim Shady LP, Slim speaks in a distinctive high-pitched, nasal, cheerful voice, while Eminem and Marshall have lower, softer and angstier voices. His first album titles even reference his multiplicity: The Slim Shady EP/LP, The Marshall Mathers LP and The Eminem Show.
  • The personalities on are starting to fall into a very labyrinthine version of this. Dan O'Brien is on record that his and Michael Swaim's characters in Agents of Cracked (or their similar but more toned-down counterparts on After Hours) are nothing like them. He also says that his column-writing persona and Swaim's Cracked TV/Does Not Compute character are also nothing like them either.
  • In Hannah Montana, teen pop sensation Miley Cyrus plays Miley Stewart and her - Stewart's, not Cyrus' - Secret Identity, teen pop sensation Hannah Montana. This is further complicated by Cyrus performing in Real Life concerts as both herself and as Hannah Montana. Sometimes in the same concert.
    • In truth, Miley (Cyrus, that is) only performed as both Hannah and herself between 2006 and early 2008. She does take on a wilder, more extroverted "wild" persona live, though, especially when wearing outrageous costumes and wardrobes.
  • Nicki Minaj: Onika Maraj is her real self, Nicki Minaj is her larger-than-life "Harajuku Barbie" identity, and Roman Zolanski is the angry, twisted version of herself.
  • Flight of the Conchords: Bret and Jemaine on the show are just exaggerated versions of the real Bret and Jemaine.
  • This is how David Bowie approached such Concept Album / concert personas as Ziggy Stardust in The '70s. He struggled with Secret-Identity Identity as a result — the BBC's documentary profile Cracked Actor (1975) has him discussing his choice to drop the Ziggy persona because he was afraid it would overtake him. Unfortunately, he was far from his right mind (addicted to cocaine, etc.) when he created the cruel Thin White Duke for 1976's Station to Station and it proved to be his final such persona; one fansite that focuses on this period has an FAQ that discusses how the persona and the performer got disastrously entangled.
  • Beyoncé claims that she's actually really shy in real life, and when she's on stage, it's almost like she's taken over by another person entirely, who she eventually named Sasha Fierce.
  • Members of the Furry Fandom vary wildly on how they apply this trope to themselves and their characters, with some considering themselves and their characters to be entirely separate and never referring to themselves as their character in real life (unless wearing a fursuit or other costume); some viewing their characters as real people whom they "channel", speaking of them in the third person and slipping in and out-of-character in public; some refusing to answer to any name but their furry name (further complicated by people who get their names legally changed, not all of whom believe their furry self to be real or separate from themselves); and some not even having a "fursona", just an online handle. But in general, most furries are of the Type 3 variety, acknowledging or even proudly admitting that their fursona is just like real life, only with animal features (or a different body type), with very different fursonas either being a challenging exercise in roleplaying or indulging in wish fulfillment about their ideal self.
  • Elton John, at least by the time he started wearing silly glasses and costumes, had a very extroverted onstage persona, the antithesis of his shy, awkward private personality. Elton also claimed his "Elton John" image was/is the opposite of everything his strict biological father wanted him to be: conservatively-clothed, with a sedate job like a banker or lawyer. Unfortunately, at the heart of his substance abuse problems (cocaine in particular) was a desire to open up more and be more sociable.
  • For the most part, the main character of TV Trash, Chris "Rowdy Reviewer" Moore, seems to be just a snarkier version of the real-life Chris Moore.
  • Freddie Mercury was a shy, private, introverted person away from the public eye, and it took a few days to transform into the more extroverted, flamboyant, cocky persona he was known for being, at least onstage. He also seemed to use the persona to get through interviews (when he did them at all) in the music press, especially as rock journalists were often abusive to Freddie and Queen, especially in the early years.
  • An odd example lies on the show Parks and Recreation where the character Andy becomes "Bert Macklin, FBI agent" when approached with a situation that might involve some form of detective work.
    • Played for Laughs with Pawnee radio hosts 'The Douche', who will make lewd jokes in public and follow them with "that was The Douche talking".
  • Tom Baker kept up the persona of the fourth Doctor during his time on Doctor Who, and if fans met him in the street, he always tried to make sure they met the Doctor. Even when speaking in the first person about acting and doing the job, he would often refer to 'Tom Baker' in the third person to refer to the person who he used to be. The interview with him on Swap Shop (included as a special feature on the DVD of "The Hand of Fear") shows Noel Edmunds, the interviewer, becoming clearly disquieted by this, and several times asking Tom to drop the persona. There are also several points in the interview where confusion arises over whether people are asking the actor or the Doctor questions, causing Tom to give ambiguous answers in the Doctor persona with blatant Reality Subtext ("I can't remember my age... sometimes I feel like I'm over 700 years old and sometimes I feel like I'm 42"). Done in the long term that it was, and not helped by the fact that the Doctor's personality in that incarnation was based on his own, it caused the line between the Doctor and the real Tom to become very blurry to the point where even forty years later he occasionally speaks of his difficulty separating them. It also had deleterious effects on his mental health, causing Inferiority Superiority Complex, occasional delusions and drastic shifts in his on-screen personality.
  • Caused a major media shitstorm in the UK in 2014 when Vine artist Dapper Laughs got his own ITV2 show, On The Pull with Dapper Laughs, a dating show in which he gave various men advice in getting girls. When Twitter had a collective meltdown about the sexist content, Dapper Laughs' use of Black Comedy Rape and the fact that a lot of his fans were the sort of people who send abuse to women online, ITV pulled the show and Laughs was invited on the news to apologise. He appeared as 'himself' and explained that Dapper Laughs was just a character, that he didn't realise people took so seriously - prompting a certain amount of debate as to whether using an ironic 'character' made awful content acceptable. Charlie Brooker suggested that much of the problem was that, even though Laughs was a character, he was giving advice about dating to real people as that character, meaning it seemed sincere.
  • In Some Jerk with a Camera, the Jerk is at least somewhat fictional, but he has been referred to as "Tony Goldmark", and takes credit for pre-Jerk works of Tony's.
  • The presenters of Top Gear (UK) and The Grand Tour are basically Flanderized versions of their real-life personas. The real Jeremy Clarkson is not as boorish, smug, and insensitive as he appears, Richard Hammond is far from stupid and not nearly as risk-taking, and James May is quite modern in outlook and not nearly as fussy as the shows make him out to be. Top Gear tended to blur the line more, especially as in the early days when the presenters had yet to fully develop their style; perhaps, as a result, many have noticed The Grand Tour playing up to the cartoonish personas more.
  • PC Music is an online label/art collective which is constantly surrounded by an air of ambiguous hyperreality, with most members playing to this to some extent. Likely the biggest case of this is GFOTY ("Girlfriend of the Year", aka Polly-Louisa Salmon), whose entire persona is built on evoking a comically hedonistic and whacked-out Hard-Drinking Party Girl, maintaining character not just in her music, but on her social media presence in general and even in interviews with reputable publishers, making it really hard to define where GFOTY the character and GFOTY the artist begin and end.
  • Takarazuka Revue actresses, particularly otokoyaku (women who play male roles) are this. They have to maintain Kayfabe in public as an unwritten rule, and many have expressed difficulties in settling into their own gender identity after they've graduated from the company. To paraphrase retired Takarasienne Yamato Yuuga, they've spent their adolescence learning how to play men convincingly that it's very easy to default back to the otokoyaku learned mannerisms.
  • In ContraPoints, the "Contra" that hosts the show is basically Natalie Wynn putting on a much louder personality than she has in real life; as her interviews and debates with other people have shown, her natural demeanor is more reserved and shy.
  • Prior to mainstream fame, Sia said: "A lot of people come up to me expecting to meet the person they have seen perform. It's not going to happen, unless my mania, my stage person, responds to them and not the real me." The mania she describes seems to just be a quirkier version of herself, which she later regretted creating due to her inability to maintain it while suffering from depression. Post-fame, Sia remains almost completely silent at shows (except for singing).