Filmmaker Irvin Kershner died at age 87 Saturday after a three year battle with lung cancer, according to the Associated Press. He was most famously known for directing The Empire Strikes Back, a movie in which he fought George Lucas to include one of the most classic lines in sci-fi history:
“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.”
For those of you not old enough to know any better, there was actually a time when George Lucas was part of a collaborative effort where filmmakers weren’t afraid to say, “So, the Force is essentially AIDS, and Darth Vader built C-3PO? — Don’t talk the rest of the day.” Now, they’re simply fed to tigers. So, on that note, sincere thanks to Irvin for directing the quintessential movie of my childhood. Growing up in Northeastern Pennsylvania, December through March meant almost-daily viewings of Empire followed by my brother and I getting shoved outside by our parents to pretend we’re on Hoth.
Rest in Peace.