Mehran Karimi Nasseri: Iranian man who lived in airport for 18 years and inspired film The Terminal dies

An Iranian man who spent 18 years living in a Paris airport, inspiring Tom Hanks film The Terminal, died on Saturday at the terminal.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri died of natural causes just before midday at Charles de Gaulle airport outside the French capital, an airport official said.

Mr Nasseri is believed to have been born in Masjed Soleiman, in the Iranian province of Khuzestan, to an Iranian doctor and a British mother. Mr Nasseri lived at the airport from 1988 to 2006 after a reported expulsion from Iran – though details of his life, including accounts of his legal status and attempts to settle elsewhere, have differed over the years.

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After an attempt to travel to the UK via France, he was turned away at the border and returned to the Paris airport. Without permission to enter France, travel to the UK or return to Iran, he remained living at the airport.

Calling himself “Sir Alfred”, he lived on an airport bench and small section of floor at Charles de Gaulle, surrounded by his possessions and cared for by airport staff.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri shaves, early in the morning, in the terminal 1 of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport (Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty)
Mehran Karimi Nasseri shaves, early in the morning, in the terminal 1 of Paris Charles De Gaulle airport (Photo: STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP via Getty)

Karimi Nasseri’s unusual story inspired Hollywood director Stephen Spielberg to make 2004 film The Terminal, which starred Tom Hanks and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Hanks played a man who becomes trapped at New York’s JFK airport when his home country collapses into revolution.

Mr Nasseri was reportedly paid $250,000 for rights to his story, and also wrote an autobiography, The Terminal Man, published in 2004.

Nasseri left the airport in 2006 after he was granted the right to remain in France, staying first at a hospital and then at a charity shelter.

But Mr Nasseri returned to the airport a few weeks ago, officials said. He is believed to have been 76 at the time of his death.

Several thousand euros were found in his possession, officials said.

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