By Leah Rozen Christina Tapper Natasha Stoynoff
January 21, 2008 12:00 PM

His character in Little Miss Sunshine refused to speak, but the actor, 23, is opening up about playing Blood’s sermonizing preacher Eli Sunday.

YOU GIVE QUITE A CONVINCING SERMON. It was a rush! The “congregation” of locals where we shot in Texas latched onto me. They’d follow me around a bit: “That was a great sermon, Brother Eli!”

BUT THEN COSTAR DANIEL DAY-LEWIS BEATS YOU UP! Yeah, I had the privilege of being slapped and getting mud stuffed in my mouth by Daniel. But I did have one scene where I slapped the hell outta him too, so that was thrilling.

THERE’S OSCAR BUZZ AROUND YOU AND THE FILM. WANT ONE? I might have had a delusion or two of that as a boy….

YOU ATTEND THE NEW SCHOOL IN NEW YORK. HOW DO YOU JUGGLE EVERYTHING? I should be working on a paper right now for Russian utopian literature, but I’m not! I’m so behind, I can’t even remember what my topic is.