Slumdog speaks

Young star Dev Patel on millions, Mumbai and the Oscars.

Photograph: Dale May

Minutes before accepting an award for Breakthrough Performance by an Actor from the National Board of Review, Dev Patel, the teenage star of Slumdog Millionaire (and TONY cover model), talked money.

What would you do if you were a millionaire? Wait, are you?
No! I’d probably do the clever thing and invest it in something like property, with the unsteady London banks and everything.

But that’s so adult!
That was just for my dad; he’s an accountant. What would I do? I’d probably buy a phat-ass Rolls-Royce Phantom—I’d buy three in, like, different colors, yeah. One in a silly color, like purple. And the rest of it for a year’s supply of popcorn. Because I love my popcorn.

That’s a nice suit.
I can’t believe I’m wearing my shirt from India! I got it made for me. I got to pick out the shiny buttons and the fabric and everything, for like 100 rupees—that’s what, two dollars?

Director Danny Boyle made Millions, then Slumdog Millionaire. Does he have a money thing?
Yeah, and a toilet issue as well. He loves his toilets!

Oh, there’s a really nasty toilet scene in Slumdog.
Yeah! Everyone loves that scene! The kid jumps right in, it’s just great.

You’re a Brit—what did you think of India?
With Bombay you can’t really tip your elbow in and test the temperature of the place, ’cause you’re right into the deep end. You’re hit by that wall of heat, everything’s different and weird, it’s like a totally different universe. There’s freedom there, no one cares about jaywalking. You can spit anywhere you like.

Was it fun being there on your own?
It’s weird. I come here to New York and L.A., and out filming in India, treated like an adult. Then I go back and live with my parents and sister, I’m just 18. I think they were shocked that their little goofball son was playing, like, a romantic hero. I actually pulled it off! Well, I wasn’t no stud or nothing.

You pumped for the Oscar announcements?
The big O-word. Ahhhh! I don’t know, it seems like a bit of a possibility now, after the [Golden] Globes. [Whispering] It was a bit weird, you know, actually meeting those different people in the flesh. I was in a room with people like Steven Spielberg, and they’ve been winning Oscars since before I even tasted my first script. P. Diddy was sitting right behind me!