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Lucas 'truly grateful' to Kershner

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George Lucas has paid tribute to his 'mentor' Irvin Kershner

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.

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