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Slumdog Millionaire's Surprise Stars

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Talk about overnight success: In their very first film, Dev Patel and Freida Pinto have melted hearts around the globe as Slumdog Millionaire‘s star-crossed sweethearts. With 10 Oscar nominations and Best Picture wins at the Golden Globes and Screen Actors Guild Awards, the movie is a phenomenon, and not just with critics. “I get people on the street shouting, ‘Hey, Slumdog’—I quite like it!” says Patel, 18, the London native who portrays Jamal, a game show contestant from Mumbai’s hardscrabble slums. “It’s still very surreal,” says Pinto, 24, a Mumbai-born model who plays his love Latika. “But I think the reality of it is hitting me just about now.”

The newcomers have won over high-powered Hollywood fans such as Clint Eastwood and Kate Winslet. “At the SAG Awards I told Angelina [Jolie] the Indian press writes funny things about me,” says Pinto. “She’s like, ‘Just enjoy, because it’s your moment. You bask in the glory and don’t let other people invade that space.'”

For Oscar night Patel—who, like Pinto, is single—will “probably bring my mum [Anita, an elder care worker]. She’s my good luck charm—I brought her to all my auditions.” Pinto has chosen neither a date nor a dress. “I’ll definitely keep it young, simple and fresh,” she says of her gown, which won’t likely sport a train: “I had one at the Golden Globes, and Dev stepped on it and ripped it!”

For now, Pinto—whom Patel calls “stunning, but quite the goof”—is hoping to conquer her lifelong clumsiness: “Imagine if I fell down on the red carpet!” And Patel simply wishes he’ll never wake up. “I’m really living the dream,” says Patel. “Every bit of it.”