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About The Production
If you travel by air, even occasionally, chances are you have been stuck in an airport terminal at one time or another. "Almost everybody has been stuck in an airport,” director/producer Steven Spielberg attests. "I don't know anyone who hasn't spent longer sitting in an airport chair than on the airplane ride itself at some point. Airports have become small microcosms of society. There are places to eat, places to shop, places to meet people…”

Producer Walter F. Parkes remarks, "If you are going to be stuck somewhere, an airport can actually be a fascinating place to be. They are places of high emotion—people are either saying goodbye or saying hello. There are intense reunions or the anticipation of absence. You get to see a cross-section of humanity parading through, and if you look at it that way, it's not the worst place to spend a few hours.”

That being said, most people still view getting delayed at the airport for a few hours as an inconvenience. But try to imagine those hours stretching into days…weeks…and even months. That incredible circumstance is the premise of "The Terminal.”

Executive producer Andrew Niccol had the initial concept of a man who was detained at the airport and ended up living in the terminal. He developed the story with screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, who recalls, "I thought it was a brilliant place to start in creating a scenario that most people would never believe could actually happen.”

That idea grew into the screenplay "The Terminal,” which told the story of Viktor Navorski, an entirely fictional character from the equally fictitious Eastern European country of Krakozhia, who is en route to New York City when his country is torn apart by war. Viktor lands in New York only to discover that his identity has become a casualty of the war at home, and to be told that "America is closed”…at least to him.

Parkes says, "This is one of those stories that is really about the smallest moments of human interaction, and Sacha's script kept the story very intimate. It's about a man encountering a handful of people in a very closed environment, and yet there's this impression that, in a way, he's meeting what America is in this place. I think that makes the story truly interesting.”

Gervasi comments, "It seemed to be both incredibly profound and ironic that a man who may never be able to walk onto American soil would still be able to experience what life in America is like…to live the American dream in the terminal.”

Tom Hanks, who portrays Viktor Navorski, agrees. "Viktor experiences an immersion in the American culture by way of the condensed world of the terminal. There is a great cross-section of Americans at work in the airport and a huge amount of the American culture constantly on display there. Racial diversity and racial divisions can be readily sampled at the airport. What Viktor goes through is a crash course in the American melting pot.”

The script eventually made its way to Steven Spielberg, who read it as one of several screenplays the studio was considering. "It was the last script I read, and it made me forget the five scripts I'd read before it. I thought it was an amazing idea,” he remembers.

Jeff Nathanson, who had collaborated with Spielberg on "Catch Me If You Can,” later came on board to work on the screenplay. "I was attracted to the project because this is a fascinating time in our history, obviously,” says Nathanson. "This story allows us, in a very entertaining way, to explore some issues that I think are paramount to everything that's going on in our country right now, so when I got the script, I was really excited.”

It wasn't until Spielberg read the new draft of the screenplay that he made the decision to direct the film. "I had an immediate affinity for Viktor's story. I believe all of us have felt a little bit like Viktor at some time in our lives—this displaced person in s

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