George Lucas has paid tribute to The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner, who has died at the age of 87.
The Star Wars guru, who knew the filmmaker as a teacher, chose Irvin – whom he called Kersh – to direct the Star Wars sequel and considered him as a friend, colleague and mentor, reported StarWars.com.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
He continued: “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 humour. 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.”
George added: “He was a friend as well as a colleague. He will be missed.”
Irvin died at his home in Los Angeles after a long illness.