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Mehran Karimi Nasseri, Iranian Man Who Inspired 2004 Movie ‘The Terminal’, Dies in Paris Airport

Charles de Gaulle airport: Merhan Karimi Nasseri, ou "Alfred" as he prefers to be called , has lived..and survived in Roissy CGG airport for 15 anos. Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to his life story for the new Tom Hanks vehicle, "The Terminal" Waiting for a departure. (Photo by Alexis DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

Charles de Gaulle airport: Merhan Karimi Nasseri, ou "Alfred" as he prefers to be called , has lived..and survived in Roissy CGG airport for 15 anos. Steven Spielberg has bought the rights to his life story for the new Tom Hanks vehicle, "The Terminal" Waiting for a departure. (Photo by Alexis DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

foto: Alexis DUCLOS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Mehran Karimi Nasseri, the Iranian man who lived in ParisCharles de Gaulle airport for years and inspired the 2004 Steven Spielberg film The Terminal, died in the airport on Saturday.

Nasseri, who was born in 1945 and lived in the airport for 18 anos, died of a heart attack in Terminal 2F of the airport, Paris airport authorities told NBC News. He lived in the airport from 1988 até 2006 after he lost his papers and was stuck in limbo.

An official told CNN that Nasserireturned to live as a homeless person in the public area of the airport since mid-September, after a stay in a nursing home.

FILE - Merhan Karimi Nasseri sits among his belongings at Terminal 1 of Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport, north of Paris on Aug. 11, 2004 . An Iranian man who lived for 18 years in Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport and inspired the Steven Spielberg film "The Terminal" morreu sábado, Nov. 12, 2022 in the airport, funcionários disseram. Merhan Karimi Nasseri died after a heart attack in the airport's terminal 2F around midday, according an official with the Paris airport authority. Police and then a medical team treated him but were not able to save him, the official said. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

FILE - Merhan Karimi Nasseri sits among his belongings at Terminal 1 of Roissy Charles De Gaulle Airport, north of Paris on Aug. 11, 2004 . An Iranian man who lived for 18 years in Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport and inspired the Steven Spielberg film "The Terminal" morreu sábado, Nov. 12, 2022 in the airport, funcionários disseram. Merhan Karimi Nasseri died after a heart attack in the airport's terminal 2F around midday, according an official with the Paris airport authority. Police and then a medical team treated him but were not able to save him, the official said. (AP Photo/Michel Euler, File)

AP Photo/Michel Euler, File

Nasseri’s attempt at a journey to England via Belgium and France, and eventual decision to stay put in the airport in 1998 out of necessity, inspired the 2004 film starring Tom Hanks. The Terminal ended up earning $219 million worldwide and won John Williams a BMI Award in 2005 for its score.

The Spielberg film suggests that he was stuck in a transit zone at Paris-Charles de Gaulle. Na realidade, he spent several stays there, but always in the public area of the airport, he was always free to move around,” a spokesperson of Nasseri told CNN.

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Nasseri eventually turned down French authoritiesoffer to stay in France because he wanted to get to England instead, CNN noticiou.

While a DreamWorks studio rep told PEOPLE in 2004 that the final movie wasin no way his story,” Nasseri was still paid a reported $275,000 for the film’s rights. In his early days, he would sleep on a red plastic bench, have his clothes cleaned at a concourse dry cleaners, and bathe in the men’s restroom of the airport.

While then-lawyer Christian Bourguet said in 2004 that he was able to secure asylum for his client, Nasseri refused to leave and hadstayed so long that he can’t reach the decision to leave.

There aren’t any theaters here,” Nasseri told PEOPLE when asked if he’d seen the film, adding that the most annoying part about living in an airport wasthe noise of the wheels on suitcases scraping across the tile floor.

Nasseri had two airport trolleys filled with items at the time, some of which were donated by employees of the airport. Some of his collected items were borrowed from travelers in waiting areas.

It’s immediately inviting,” Hanks said of the movie in 2004, after the film’s production built a faux airport terminal from scratch for the set. “This is actually the antithesis of what most motion-picture making is. It is bright, it is airy, it is cool.