After nearly 30 years in Hollywood, Reese Witherspoon probably thought she’d seen it all when it comes to interviews.
But a reporter named Lucy Ford managed to surprise the industry veteran when she passed her a copy of a 15,000-word college dissertation she wrote about Legally Blonde during a press junket for A Wrinkle in Time.
After making clear that she is also a fan of costars Oprah Winfrey and Mindy Kaling, who sat beside Witherspoon for the interview, Ford told the actress, 41, that she was the subject of her college dissertation, which focused on strong female characters in film.
She then handed Witherspoon a copy of the paper, saying, “You can read it, you can burn it, you can clean your windows with it, but I feel like this was full circle for me that I wrote that four years ago.” She added that she’s watched Legally Blonde about 800 times.
“I was quite nervous to do it, as I tend to try and keep my fangirl tendencies out of interviews where I can, but I knew I would have kicked myself [if I didn’t],” Ford, who works for the U.K.’s Bauer Media, told PEOPLE.
Witherspoon seemed touched by the gesture, and, after taking the paper, said that she noticed it was even sprayed with perfume — a trick her character uses with resumes in Legally Blonde.
“The moment I handed @RWitherspoon my 15,000 dissertation/love letter to Legally Blonde – and yes, it was scented,” Ford later tweeted, along with a video of the interview. “I blacked out somewhere between her taking it and Oprah saying ‘wow.’ ”
“Thanks to a lot of color correcting in the edit, you can’t actually see my face and chest going as bright as my hair,” Ford joked about the moment. “Also, Oprah was in the room. Oprah! How can anyone keep their chill in front of the queen that is Oprah. And Mindy Kaling, who I am just the biggest fan of and respect so much.”
Witherspoon wasn’t the only person touched by the moment. Thousands have retweeted and commented on the video, including famed YouTube personality Tyler Oakley.
“I love moments like this,” he tweeted.
“I definitely did not expect this response,” Ford said. “I always get a lot of funny looks when I say I wrote my final year dissertation on Legally Blonde, but seeing so many people love the idea and actually want to read it has been amazing.”
A Wrinkle in Time is now in theaters.