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The actor and the athlete

John Terry takes on fan role as daughter Hanna joins Thorns


Photo Credit: COURTESY OF KATHLEEN BALLARD - Father John Terry, a veteran actor in movies and on television, has been behind his daughter Hanna Terrys soccer career since her early club days in Park City, Utah. Now hes cheering her on as a recent addition to the Portland Thorns.In hindsight, there’s a scene in the 1995 movie “The Big Green” that pretty much sums up the Terrys — John and his daughter, Hanna.

In the film, John Terry, playing drunken single dad Ed, shows up at his daughter’s soccer game. After 75 minutes of crusty and callous contempt, he makes a surprise appearance in the second half of the championship to cheer on his daughter, eyes welling up when he finally sees her play.

That moment steals the movie. It’s the type of heartwarmer Disney has built an empire on. And it could not have been more prescient.

Nearly 20 years later, veteran actor John

Terry is still showing up at soccer games, sober, of course — but now it’s in real life.

For his real daughter.

And among thousands of adoring Portland soccer fans.

“I thought that was so sweet,” 23-year-old Hanna Terry says of the movie. “It’s just like our relationship.”

Hanna Terry, a 5-5 forward, inked her first contract with the Thorns on Aug. 1. The deal not only was a big step in her young professional career, but it also enabled her to take another step out of her dad’s Hollywood shadow.

Hanna is growing a name for herself on her own merit, and she can comfortably say she traded the alluring brand of Hollywood nepotism for organic personal success.

“It was always just implied that that was the life that we lived,” she says, between sips of coffee in downtown

Portland.

She is wearing a green flannel shirt tied around gray pants that reach down to her white high-top Converse sneakers. She has a dark gray Bob Marley shirt with the sleeves cut off to show toned arms that would make Madonna jealous. Sartorially, she’s adjusting to Portland just fine.

“I understood not everyone got to go on set with their dad and meet celebrities and stuff,” she says. “I understood that. But it was never really anything that we talked about.

“I don’t know if my teammates really know.”

If they don’t, it’s by Hanna’s choice. She admits that she’s still a little opaque on purpose. Whenever someone asks what her dad does for a living, she always responds with, “He’s in the entertainment industry.”

John’s IMDB page reads like a character actor’s dream: TV, movies, commercials, plays.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF KEVIN AHEAM - Hanna Terry starred at forward for Northeastern University as the Boston-based school won the Colonial Athletic Association championship in 2013, her senior season, to make the NCAA playoffs. She was named the outstanding player of the league tournament.John, 63, called himself the “King of European Commercials” for a stretch in the ‘80s. He can count a James Bond movie to his credit and, if he wanted to, could brag about working with some of the greatest filmmakers of all time. In “Full Metal Jacket,” Stanley Kubrick uses John’s mug to help ease the tension after one of the burliest murder/suicides in film history. In “Zodiac,” David Fincher enlisted John to read the title serial killer’s haunting letters in a cold, terrifying deadpan.

But what John probably is most known for is his role as Dr. Christian Shepherd, Jack’s alcoholic father who wandered around the island on the hit ABC-TV show “Lost.”

Unlike some of the drunken dads he’s played, John never let his career keep him from encouraging his daughter’s soccer career.

At age 10, Hanna began playing on an uber-competitive traveling team — Black Diamond Soccer Club — which had 13 of its 18 players go to Division I schools. One former teammate, Lindsi Lisonbee Cutshall, is a National Women’s Soccer League colleague now, playing for Sky Blue FC in New Jersey.

Making it to games back then wasn’t bending over backward for John; it was a priority.

Hanna’s soccer tournaments forced John and the family to Las Vegas for six straight Thanksgivings, eating dinner at a pub in their hotel.

When Hanna was younger, John never told her he would turn down roles to be around the family — he had more tact than that — but he didn’t keep it a secret at work.

Things got a little testy on one set in Albuquerque, N.M., in the mid-aughts — John declined to say which year — when the production tried to go back on a verbal agreement it had made.

“I said, ‘You need to watch how I walk out this door, because I’m getting on a plane and I’m watching my daughter play soccer. Bye,’” he said.

It’s much easier for him to take time off these days. John has been on “sabbatical” from acting the past six years, living on a 45-foot Hilu sailboat in the Caribbean (he transited the Panama Canal in May).

With the added flexibility, John says he turned into a “stalker” last year for Hanna’s senior season at Northeastern University, bouncing around from city to city for the final seven games of the season.

“This is not like a hardship for me,” John says. “I did it for me, man, and it was a ball.”

As normal a household as the Terry’s purported to be, that doesn’t mean Dad’s professional life never overlapped into Hanna’s.

On the set of “Zodiac,” Hanna decided she wanted to snap a photo with two of the stars, a pre-”Iron Man” Robert Downey Jr. and post-Kirsten Dunst Jake Gyllenhaal. The A-Listers were OK with it, but with one stipulation: “We’re not taking a normal picture.”

Gyllenhaal told Hanna that they were going to act like gangsters. She, nervously, made a duck face. Then Downey — the personification of charisma — stormed in and pretended to eat Hanna’s face.

“They totally made my month by being so cool,” she says.

Then there’s the “Surfer, Dude” experience.

Hanna decided she would suffer through a vacation in Malibu, Calif., to watch the star of the movie, Matthew McConaughey, fresh off one of his People magazine covers, do pushups in between takes.

“For a 15-year-old girl, you just go duh-duh-duh-duh,” Hanna says, scrunching her right eye and making her head do spastic jolts to mimic short-circuiting. “He’s so good looking.”

Just like with “Zodiac,” Hanna needed a picture. This one would be a bit more conventional — just a typical arm around the shoulder, “Say, cheese!” shot — but the moment stuck around longer than the flash.

After McConaughey left, Hanna started to pick up a scent of body odor. She leaned down, smelled her shoulder and realized that McConaughey’s famous au naturale, no-deodorant lifestyle had literally rubbed off on her.

It didn’t matter.

“She didn’t have to run home and take a shower or anything,” John Terry says.

McConaughey’s co-star, Woody Harrelson, then approached Hanna. “So, you're John’s kid?”

A 30-minute conversation morphed into an invite for Hanna to Harrelson’s personal soccer field in Hawaii, if she ever made it on the island.

“People really love my dad,” Hanna says. “He’s a real charismatic person, so when they hear I’m his daughter, they feel like they have to be nice, because they really like my dad. It’s an awesome thing to have your dad known as a real cool person.”

John deflects the praise.

“I started at the top, and I’ve been working my way down ever since,” he says of his career, quoting Orson Welles in a subtle North Floridian accent that stretches his “Os” and softens his “As”.

After landing two film leads at the start of his career in New York, John moved to London for eight years, where he met his wife and Hanna’s mother, Lena, at a house party on the River Thames.

After they started having kids, John moved infant Hanna and his family to Park City, Utah. At home, he strived for the post-Korean War typical household he grew up with, then had the option to take one of the 10 to 15 daily flights to Los Angeles and remain one of the 3 percent of the Screen Actors Guild members that he says makes a living.

“I could work a couple months, crack the annual nut, and be Mr. Mom the rest of the year,” John says. “I was never a movie star, I was never a TV star — I was a working actor. The thing that was the most attractive to me was that I got to spend time with my kids.

“And, of course, look at the damage I did to them.”

This is tongue-in-cheek, of course. Other than Hanna becoming a professional athlete, John raised an older son named JC — Hanna calls him “the child star” — who graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering from Cal Poly and works as an aerospace engineer in San Diego in between shows as a deejay.

But, Hanna’s trophy case isn’t anything to balk at, either.

As a high school freshman, her team won the state championship and she was named to the all-state team in Utah. By the start of her junior year at Park City High, she already had committed to the University of Utah. She capped her prep career with state MVP honors as a senior.

Early in her life as a collegian, Hanna quickly realized that Utah wasn’t for her. After the first season, she wanted to transfer, but coach Rich Manning only allowed her to look at a few, select schools.

One of those was Northeastern, in Boston, where one of Hanna’s childhood idols, Tracey Leone, was the head coach.

Unfortunately for Hanna, Northeastern only needed a goalie, and with how arduous the transfer process became, Hanna’s fate quickly seemed set to return to Utah.

She remembers lying face up on her Marriott Courtyard bed with one of her teammates, feeling sorry for herself.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do,” she said. “I’ve never been so upset. I’ve never been so lost.”

That moment, she got a text from her club coach, Richie Breza, and a call from her dad. Northeastern wanted her.

“It was like a movie,” Hanna says. “I’m sitting there expressing my grief ... and I get the phone call.”

Over the next few years, Hanna battled with injuries (knee and hip mostly) but ended up hitting her apex as a player at the end of her junior year in college. She found her stride at Northeastern, got invited to a tournament with the under-23 Swedish national team — she has a dual citizenship — and for the first time really thought she could compete on a professional level.

Judgment day came while she was studying abroad in England.

Hanna watched the National Women’s Soccer League draft, hunkered over a laptop at 8 p.m. on a Saturday while her friends were out, just to see if the outside shot of being drafted came to fruition.

After two rounds, the “little spark of hope” she carried earlier in the day had deflated.

“You have to be confident,” Hanna says, launching into how applicable her dad’s job can be, even for a soccer player. “You get shut down so many times in acting — there’s so many jobs he didn’t get that went to bigger actors. If you go into an (audition) without confidence, your chances of getting a role are down the drain. It’s the same in soccer. You need self-belief.”

In professional women’s soccer, as with most professional sports, the end of the draft doesn’t necessarily signify the end of hope.

After invitations to combine tryouts from both the NWSL Boston Breakers and the Thorns, Hanna impressed enough to get offers to join both clubs.

It came down to either going back to Boston or heading to Oregon. Then came the tipping point.

Hanna got an email from Thorns coach Paul Riley, who enclosed a photo. It was of Providence Park, teeming with rabid soccer fans and an energy that jumped out of the image. It also came with a note.

“I know you’re making a decision right now,” Riley wrote. “I just want you to check this out because there’s no other place like this in the world.”

After that, the decision didn’t seem so seismic.

“Portland is my dream city,” she says. “You get to train at Nike. You get to train at Providence Park. They were the (2013 inaugural) NWSL champions. You get to play with the best players in the world. And, at the end of the day, if I get to stay on as a practice player in Portland, I’m going to grow more than if I was on a squad somewhere else.”

With that, Hanna joined the practice squad in Portland, the same city her dad did the Lifetime movie “A Change of Heart” with Jean Smart in the late 1990s.

Photo Credit: COURTESY OF CRAIG MITCHELLDYER - Hanna Terry, a 23-year-old rookie who signed with the Portland Thorns two weeks ago, has seen only eight minutes of action but hopes to fit into the National Womens Soccer League teams future plans.Hanna immediately moved from London and finished her classes online during the NWSL preseason, forcing her to miss her graduation. Instead, she celebrated with drinks at Prost! on North Mississippi Avenue with one of her childhood idols, Rachel Van Hollebeke. She still hasn’t seen her diploma.

But once she hit the field as a Thorn, the transition from working out twice a week in London to twice a day with the best in the world didn’t go smoothly. Hanna admittedly was the weakest player on the field.

“The first few weeks were some of the toughest of my life,” she says. “I was playing so bad, I couldn’t believe it. It’s not an exaggeration. I would love to say it was because of the competition, but I was just playing horrible.

“I was crying a lot, to be honest.”

What didn’t help was how discouraging being on the practice team can be. Every day she would practice, go through all the drills, do every activity with the team — and then on game day she would have to trudge up to the stands to watch her team from a seat instead of from the Thorns’ bench.

This really started to take a toll on Hanna, but whenever her teammates saw her shoulders slump a little, they helped her out. Emails, text messages and handwritten letters came in; little words of encouragement from the women Hanna grew up admiring.

“We love you, we’re here for you. You do you, we’re here for you.”

The thoughts really counted.

“That was so cool to me,” Hanna says. “They didn’t have to do that.

“It’s really rare you feel that kind of love.”

Hanna says she still has “pinch-me moments” a couple times a week, even though that’s something she’d never tell her teammates. She used to idolize many of the Thorns — and now she goes wine tasting with them. She goes to barbecues with them. She hits the beach and goes hiking with them.

She still remembers how, in seventh grade, she got a call to go to the principal’s office. Her mom was waiting there, ready to take her to California to watch the 2003 Women’s World Cup in California.

There, Hanna watched Christine Sinclair play for the Canadian national team.

“Christine Sinclair was one of my favorite players,” she says. “Now I play with her every day in practice.”

Of course, having legends such as Sinclair on the Portland roster makes it difficult for Hanna to crack a starting spot. So far this season, going into the final regular-season game at 2 p.m. Sunday at home against the first-place Seattle Reign, she has logged eight total minutes of game action.

Riley lauds Hanna’s versatility and calls her “monotype,” but he just can’t see exactly where she’d work in the lineup at this time.

“She’s one for the future,” Riley says. “(She’s been) a big part of the team the entire season, and she got her just reward getting signed.”

It all became official with one recent text from Riley.

“It looks like we can sign you Friday. More details to follow,” he said in the message.

Hanna was out in the woods near Mount Hood, at a koozie necklace proprietor’s house, when she got the Thorns’ contract.

Hanna was resourceful. She printed out the contract and signed it on the floor. Then she downloaded an app, scanned her first contract with her cell phone and sent it off, officially becoming the newest member of the Portland Thorns.

“It was totally the most validating experience I’ve had,” she says — of earning the contract, not scanning it.

Then she got another text. This one was from teammate and American soccer sweetheart Alex Morgan, one of the Thorns’ stars.

“I’m so proud of you. You’ve always been part of the team, now you’re just getting paid for it!” Morgan said in her text.

Unfortunately for Hanna, every player signs year-to-year contracts in the NSWL, and so she can be cut or traded at any time.

With the limited security, she already is looking to the future and staying busy.

Hanna will play in Cyprus in September for a club team named Apollo. She’d also eventually like to play for a national team — either Sweden or the U.S. — if that opportunity presents itself down the road.

But for now, the next challenge is the home match versus Seattle, and her dad will be there among the thousands of Thorns fans, wearing his “Terry” jersey.

The last time he made it to Portland was for Father’s Day, when Hanna played the first three minutes of her pro career against the Washington Spirit.

While he was visiting, John and Hanna went out with the rest of the Thorns, and their two professional lives finally came full circle.

All her life, Hanna had rolled her eyes and been embarrassed whenever her dad was recognized in public.

On Father’s Day, the tables turned. Hanna got recognized as a Thorn right in front of her dad, and John approved.

Hanna was gracious and appreciative. Humility rubbed off from childhood.

“I was pretty prepared for this in ways I didn’t realize until it happened,” she says. “It was 20/20 hindsight, as always.”