The Empire Strikes Back ... again: Director Irvin Kershner dies
Irvin Kershner, best known to '80s fans for directing the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back and the rogue James Bond film Never Say Never Again, died Saturday at age 87.
Kershner had a long career in Hollywood before he was hired by George Lucas to direct Empire. Kershner earlier this year told Vanity Fair that he tried to give the sequel more depth than the original.
"When I finally accepted the assignment, I knew that it was going to be a dark film, with more depth to the characters than in the first film," he said. "It took a few years for the critics to catch up with the film and to see it as a fairy tale rather than a comic book."
Kershner said he had only one sharp disagreement with Lucas. The script originally called for the heroine, Princess Leia, to tell space pilot Han Solo "I love you" and for him to reply "I love you, too."
"I shot the line and it just didn't seem right for the character of Han Solo," Kershner said.
Instead, actor Harrison Ford improvised the reply: "I know."
Lucas wanted the original line but after test previews agreed to leave in Ford's reply, which has gone on to be one of the best-known lines in the series. Kershner turned down the chance to direct Return of the Jedi, a decision he told Vanity Fair that he never regretted.
"After working for two years and nine months doing Empire, and having it take so much out of my life and having given me so much, I felt that it was a complete experience and it was time to move on."
- Associated Press