Chanelle Peloso refused to watch The Bletchley Circle before she auditioned for its spin-off, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco.
“I was scared to fall in love with it and not get it,” she says.
But after she landed the part, she binge-watched the UK original and thought there must have been some sort of mistake. “I was just in shock,” she explains. “The first two [seasons] are just so incredible, and I was like, ‘Holy smokes, they want me?'”
Peloso shouldn’t have been so surprised. Her performances have a history of getting people’s attention. One of her first breaks came on the Cartoon Network series Level Up, where she auditioned for a one-line role and made such an impression that she was promoted to a recurring character. Parts on CN’s Incredible Crew, Disney’s Zapped, CW’s Supernatural and Facebook Watch’s Secret Lies soon followed.
Now on Bletchley: SF, Peloso continues to stand out, more than holding her own among a top-notch lead cast that includes Brits Julie Graham and Rachael Stirling and fellow Canadian Crystal Balint. As Hailey—the youngest, most enthusiastic, and most cheerfully blunt member of the codebreaking circle—she brings heart, bravery and, as the series progresses, a touch of heartbreak to the show. It’s impossible not to root for her each time she pops into a scene, whether she’s helping to solve a mystery with her mechanical prowess or introducing the other characters to San Francisco’s thriving Beat culture.
To help us get ready for Friday’s new episode, “Charlotte’s Web,” written by Damon Vignale and directed by Mike Rohl, Peloso phoned us from Vancouver to give us the lowdown on Hailey, tell us what’s coming up in future episodes and explain why she’s a bit like Chunk from The Goonies.
Was this your first period piece?
Chanelle Peloso: Yes, I never really go up for period pieces. It’s rare for me. But I love a good period piece. It’s a dream come true.
Hailey is becoming one of my favourites on the show. What were your first impressions of her?
CP: God, I love her so much! When you first go on an audition, you only get a small sense of who [a character is], but I felt that she was the person that was always kind of inside of me. She was a character I really felt I resonated with that I had yet to play.
I loved how she was kind of blunt, but not in a mean way. It’s just that her brain is going a million miles a minute. She just processes a lot faster, so her brain works faster than her mouth, and she just looks at the world with such awe. I also just loved her relationship with Crystal [Balint]’s character, Iris. Because it’s 1956, and Hailey is a white woman, and to be such good friends with a woman of colour in that day and age probably wasn’t as common. So I think that showed me a lot about who she was, that those things didn’t matter, it was more about the people. And I loved her so much for that.
Hailey is the youngest member of the group, and you’re the youngest member of the lead cast. Were you nervous at all when you first started filming?
CP: I was so intimidated when I first met Julie [Graham] and Rachael [Stirling]. I mean, how can you not be? They’ve already done this for two seasons, and they know their characters so strongly. The first time I had a scene with Julie, I almost had a panic attack. I was freaking out. But they’re so gracious, and they’re just so incredible. They’ve been doing this for so long, and I was just, ‘Oh, my God, I hope I can do this justice.’ It’s pretty nerve-wracking at first, but then you get to know them and they’re just such loving and incredible people. And the same with Crystal. I felt that we got along right off the bat because we were both really scared. We were coming to this world that has already been established and already has this huge fan base. But that helps our relationship in the show because [our characters] have been friends for so long in the Bletchley world. And Crystal is just so personable and so hardworking and so open-hearted and kind.
So the first couple of weeks were really intimidating, but then you get to know these ladies and they’re just so incredible and you learn so much from them being on set for hours and hours every day for three months. It’s such a great experience, and it’s so fascinating to watch them work and see their process.
Can you preview a bit about what viewers can expect from the rest of the series and from Hailey?
CP: The best thing about these mysteries is that you think you’ve got it figured out and then something else comes along and you’re like, ‘Oh, I was completely wrong this whole time.’ Which I really enjoyed, because I hate when it’s too easy or when the plot is spoon-fed. You can’t expect that. You really need to be paying attention to what’s going on. I can’t tell you how many times I read the script and went, ‘Wait, what?’
And Hailey’s character—and all the characters—not only are they solving these crimes, but they’re also diving into their personal lives and their personal histories. Episodes 5 and 6 are really big for Hailey because, it’s not that she’s doing self-discovery, but she’s coming to terms with a part of her, and so those episodes are quite important to her character and what she stands for and for her coming to terms with a part of herself that she’s ignored for a very long time.
Does that mean Episodes 5 and 6 are your favourites of the season?
CP: Episode 6 is the biggest one for Hailey, but the other episode that I’m really excited for is Episode 7 because Rachael Stirling’s husband, Guy Garvey, from the band Elbow, has a little cameo as a jazz singer in the [Big Bop club]. It’s one of these beautiful choreographed pieces where he’s singing in the background with all of this action that’s going on in the club. Thinking about it right now gives me chills. It’s so beautiful to watch. So that’s definitely something to look out for.
Hailey is known for being a mechanical genius, but if you were part of a group of amateur detectives solving crimes in your town, what would be your special skill?
CP: Oh, geez! I think the big difference between me and Hailey is she’s such a go-getter and she gets right in there, she doesn’t think twice. But I’m such a logical and practical person. So I don’t think it’s a skill, but I like to think of myself as Chunk from The Goonies. I’m like, ‘Are you guys sure we should be doing this?’ So maybe I’d be the voice of reason. Maybe some street smarts and the voice of reason is how I would see myself if I was a detective.
The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET on Citytv.
Images courtesy of Omnifilm Entertainment