Following yesterday's news that Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back director Irvin Kershner has died at age 87, George Lucas has issued a statement on behalf of his late friend and colleague, describing the man as "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," said Lucas. "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 short. I considered him a mentor."
Lucas goes on to explain why Kershner was the ideal candidate to direct Empire, saying he didn't want to direct the movie himself following his experience on the first Star Wars.
"I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor," he said. "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."