Director Irvin Kershner passed away this morning at the age of 87. I’m sure most of you remember him as the director of The Empire Strikes Back, as I do. Funnily enough, that’s not the first thing that comes to the mind of Star Wars guru George Lucas.
Before Lucas employed Kershner to direct the Star Wars sequel, he knew him as a teacher in the film program at USC. You can find Lucas’ words of remembrance for his friend, colleague, and mentor, “Kersh,” after the jump.
“The world has lost a great director and one of the most genuine people I’ve had the pleasure of knowing. Irvin Kershner was a true gentleman in every sense of the word. When I think of Kersh, I think of his warmth, his thoughtfulness and his talent. I knew him from USC — I attended his lectures and he was actually on the festival panel that gave the prize to my [THX 1138] short. I considered him a mentor.
“Following Star Wars, I knew one thing for sure: I didn’t want to direct the second movie myself. I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over. I didn’t want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures. I was trying to build something, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it. He brought so much to the table. I am truly grateful to him.
“He was a friend as well as a colleague. He will be missed.”