An Iranian man whose life loosely inspired the Steven Spielberg film “The Terminal” died on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Mehran Karimi Nasseri reportedly lived inside the Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris for over 18 years. Nasseri died after suffering a heart attack in the airport’s Terminal 2F around midday on Saturday, Nov. 12. Even though a medical team responded to the scene and treated him, they were not able to save him, People reported.

Nasseri was born in 1945 in Soleiman, a part of Iran. He left Iran to study in England in 1974. When he returned, he was imprisoned for protesting against the shah and was expelled without a passport. He then applied for political asylum in several countries in Europe. Even though the UNHCR in Belgium gave him refugee credentials, his briefcase containing the refugee certificate was stolen at a Paris train station. 

When French police later arrested him, they couldn't deport him anywhere because he had no official documents. He finally ended up at Charles de Gaulle in August 1988 and reportedly lived in the airport’s Terminal 1 from 1988 until 2006, CNN reported.

For years, he slept on a red plastic bench, made friends with airport workers, showered in staff facilities, wrote in his diary, read magazines, and surveyed passing travelers. The airport staff nicknamed him Lord Alfred, and he became a mini-celebrity among passengers.

“Eventually, I will leave the airport,” he said in an interview in 1999, smoking a pipe on his bench, looking frail with long thin hair, sunken eyes, and hollow cheeks. “But I am still waiting for a passport or transit visa.”

When he finally received his refugee papers, he experienced severe insecurity, about leaving the airport. He reportedly refused to sign the refugee papers and ended up staying in the airport for several more years until he was hospitalized in 2006. After he was hospitalized, he later lived in a Paris shelter.

According to his friends in the airport, years of living in the windowless space took a toll on his mental state. The airport doctor in the 1990s stated that he worried about Nasseri's physical and mental health, and described him as “fossilized here.” A ticket agent friend even compared him to a prisoner incapable of “living on the outside."

In the weeks before his death, Nasseri returned to Charles de Gaulle and started living there again.

Nasseri's life story loosely inspired the 2004 movie “The Terminal” starring Tom Hanks, as well as a French film, “Lost in Transit,” and an opera called “Flight.”

In the movie “The Terminal,” Tom Hanks played a man named Viktor Navorski, a man who arrives at JFK airport in New York from the fictional Eastern European country of Krakozhia. After arriving at the airport, he discovers that an overnight political revolution has invalidated all his traveling papers. Viktor is then dumped into the airport’s international lounge and is told that he must stay there until his status is sorted out, which gets dragged on as unrest in Krakozhia continues.