An Iranian man who inspired Tom Hanks’ ‘The Terminal’ dies at Paris airport

The Iranian man who inspired the events behind Steven Spielberg’s 2004 film “The Terminal” died Saturday at the Paris airport where he had lived for nearly 20 years, authorities said.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri died at Charles de Gaulle airport, his home for 18 years, of a heart attack in the airport’s Terminal 2F around noon, a Paris airport authority official said.

Emergency services responded to the scene but were unable to save him, an official said.

FILE - Merhan Karimi Nasseri sits among his belongings at Terminal 1 of Roissy Charles De Gaulle airport, north of Paris, on August 1.  11, 2004.

FILE – Merhan Karimi Nasseri sits among his belongings at Terminal 1 of Roissy Charles De Gaulle airport, north of Paris, on August 1. 11, 2004.
(AP Photo/Michel Euler, file)

Nasseri’s life was the inspiration for the American comedy, which starred Tom Hanks as Viktor Navorski, a man from the fictional Eastern European country of Krakozhia who is stranded and forced to live at JFK airport.

Demonstrators for a radical climate in the storm building of Portugal, urge the Minister of Economy to resign

The real person behind the fictional story lived in Paris Airport Terminal 1 from 1988 to 2006, initially as a result of deportation turned into unsuccessful legal limbo.

Then he stayed by apparent choice.

Over the years, Nasseri became something of a celebrity, sleeping on a red plastic bench, befriending airport workers, showering in staff facilities and reading magazines.

“Eventually, I’ll leave the airport,” he told The Associated Press in 1999. “But I’m still waiting for a passport or a transit visa.”

A traveler walks through the corridors of Terminal 2 at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, on the northeastern outskirts of Paris, on September 16, 2022.

A traveler walks through the corridors of Terminal 2 at Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, on the northeastern outskirts of Paris, on September 16, 2022.
(JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

Born in 1945 in Soleiman, Nasseri left Iran to study in England in 1974. He was jailed when he returned home, he said, for protesting against the shah.

He was subsequently expelled without a passport.

COP27: THOUSANDS OF WORLD DIPLOMATS WILL DESCENT IN EGYPT’S RITZY RESORT CITY TO SOLVE GLOBAL WARMING

His legal problems grew when he applied for asylum and the UNHCR in Belgium granted it, but he said the refugee certificate was stolen at a train station in Paris.

Nasseri was then arrested by French police and faced deportation, but lacked official documents.

He was then sent to Charles de Gaulle in August 1988, where he remained.

This photo taken on September 16, 2022 shows travelers looking at the departure information board at Terminal 2 of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport.

This photo taken on September 16, 2022 shows travelers looking at the departure information board at Terminal 2 of Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport.
(JULIEN DE ROSA/AFP via Getty Images)

European immigration laws have become stricter over the years preventing any rescue of their legal situation. But eventually he received his refugee papers.

When faced with the reality that he might have to leave the airport he had made his new home, he refused to sign them.

Nasseri was hospitalized in 2006, and then moved to a hostel in Paris.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

In the weeks before his death, Nasseri returned to live at Charles de Gaulle, the airport official said.

His story freely inspired Spielberg, as well as a French film, “Lost in Transit” and an opera called “Flight.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *