Melanie Zanetti, the Australian actress who plays Chilli Heeler in Bluey, is not exclusively a voice actor. She appears in a number of on-camera roles, including Young Rock and The Bureau of Magical Things. But the role that she is most associated with is Chilli, meaning that while she is heard in millions of homes around the world, relatively few of her fans know what she looks like. And that has been fun for the actor, who can decide for herself if she wants to "blend in" at events like the U.S. premiere of the Bluey stage show.
While the voices themselves are not dissimilar to the actors' speaking voices, Zanetti noted that her voice is not as immediately distinctive as Dave McCormack, who plays Bandit on the show. Asked what she thinks about being able to "hide" who she is, she answered "Love it!"
"It's pretty close to our actual sound," Zanetti told ComicBook.com. "I sometimes broaden the vowels a little bit. I have a pretty neutral accent....I have two little nieces and one of them has finally got the concept that I am Bluey's mom. The cognitive dissonance is hard. There was like six months to a year where my brother was like, 'Hey, Auntie Mel is Chilli,' and Amber was like 'Don't know what that means!' And then it finally clicked and she was very shocked and very excited."
Aside from her own family, though, Zanetti says that nobody really figures it out unless they're clued in. Not so much for McCormack, whose voice is distinctive -- and whose appearance is a bit more well-known, since he's the frontman of the Australian rock group Custard.
"I've never been recognized vocally. Like, Dave has a very distinct voice, and so he's in the supermarket and people are going down the other aisles to see if it's him," Zanetti said." But I really love the anonymity. It happens all the time, I pass familiies kitted out in their Bluey stuff, and they'll never know. There's something wonderful about that to me."
Zanetti said that while her friends are often eager to tell anyone who will listen about her animated fame, she herself rarely does -- and when she does, it's usually for a reason.
"I have once or twice, when we are so deep in something," she admitted. "There was a situation once where there was a family, and there was a kid who was talking about Bluey this and Bluey that and blah blah blah. It was actually on a set, and I was like, 'Okay, can I tell you a secret, if we do this?' It was like a bargaining tool."