Irvin Kershner, the American filmmaker best known for directing the second Star Wars movie 'Empire Strikes Back', has died in Los Angeles aged 87, reports AFP News Agency. His goddaughter ADRIANA SANTINI confirmed the news today, explaining that Kershner had died at his home after a long illness.
Kershner was a well-respected figure within the film industry, and had directed a string of high profile movies including the James Bond film 'Never Say Never Again', starring Sean Connery, and the 1990 action movie 'Robocop 2' starring Peter Weller. Born in Philadelphia in 1923, the director trained as a musician and studied photography before he began to make documentaries and short films. Star Wars creator George Lucas personally handpicked Kershner to direct the sequel to the ground-breaking sci-fi adventure film 'Star Wars' and in 1980 'Empire Strikes Back' wowed critics and audiences alike. The film saw the villainous 'Darth Vader' reveal that he was 'Luke Skywalker's' father - a seminal moment in cinema history.
In an interview with Vanity Fair in October, Kershner spoke about 'Empire Strikes Back' and whether he regarded it as a classic work of science fiction, he said, "I wanted very much for the film to succeed because I knew that George was spending his own money on it. I think the critics felt that they were going to see an extension of 'Star Wars.' In other words, they wanted another 'Star Wars.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".