Last Monday, Paranormal Activity star Katie Featherston walked into her local L.A. Starbucks and got a dose of just how dramatically her life had changed over the weekend. ''I didn't think my barista knew my name, but he was like, 'Katie! Your movie made $7 million!''' says the actress, 26, speaking exclusively to EW. ''I was like, 'Uhh...yes. Can I have a latte?'''
Actually, not to quibble, Starbucks guy, but Paranormal Activity grossed $7.9 million at 160 theaters, averaging a phenomenal $49,379 per screen and setting a record for films in such a limited release. That's quite a feat for a scrappy little horror pic about a couple's demon-haunted house a movie that was made for $11,000 in seven days and almost didn't get a theatrical release at all. When DreamWorks bought Paranormal for $350,000 in 2008, the plan was to remake it as a glossy star vehicle and release the original on DVD. ''At that point, we were just thankful for a DVD release,'' says Micah Sloat, 28, who plays Featherston's boyfriend. ''I was fine with that if that's what had to happen, but I'm really glad it didn't.''
Being the talk of Hollywood is certainly unknown territory for the fresh-faced pair. Featherston's only prior film experience was a bit part in a straight-to-DVD flick called Mutation. Sloat, who earns a living as a computer programmer out of his L.A. home, had none and was ready to give up acting altogether. Now they can both count Steven Spielberg among their fans. ''They created such a reality that you just sit back and say, 'Well, they're not acting. This is happening,''' says the filmmaker, who championed Paranormal when DreamWorks was part of Paramount and suggested the film's current ending. ''For two actors to make you feel like that, you've got to admire them.''
In the coming weeks, as the movie continues to expand, Featherston and Sloat will hit the promotional circuit and go on as many auditions as they can. They're already taking meetings. And of course, they're on the phone with their agents constantly. ''I'm surprised I haven't received 10 text messages and three voice-mails just now,'' Featherston says mid-interview. ''I have!'' laughs Sloat. ''My phone keeps ringing and vibrating.'' Go on, take the call.