´This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back. For the entire year, Lucasfilm is celebrating this landmark movie, including making Empire a central theme to this year's Star Wars Celebration event in August. Look for retrospective features on StarWars.com throughout the year, as well as here, in the Homing Beacon.
Back in 1990, Empire celebrated its first major milestone at ten years old. Then, Lucasfilm Fan Club Magazine asked director Irvin Kershner to recall how he came to be director of Episode V.
"I had a phone call from [producer] Gary Kurtz who asked me if I would be interested, and I said I would think about it. I talked about it with my agent and I said, 'Oh, what a hard act to follow! Star Wars! I don't know.' I was kind of put off by the enormity of the job and having to not top it. I never believe in topping, I believe in just making something which stands on its own terms. I thought, 'What a difficult job!' I met with George Lucas at Universal over lunch and he began talking about what he wanted to do and how important the second film was, because if the second one worked, then he could make more. If the second one didn't work, then that would be the end of Star Wars. So I thought about it and said, 'Well, why do you want me? Of all the younger guys around, all the hot-shots, why me?' And I remember he said to me, 'Well, because you know everything a Hollywood director is supposed to know but you're not Hollywood.' I liked that.
"Of course, I've always liked George and respected him. I loved his little films and his stuff at USC. I had some seminars with him when I was teaching and he was making some little films. I remember THX 1138 and, in fact, did my best to make Warner release it. They were reluctant to release it. So I finally decided, 'Why not direct this Star Wars film.' However, I didn't know it would take me almost three years! So, I went up to see George and he took me to his office and showed me these drawings of what would later be Skywalker Ranch. He said, 'This is what this film will pay for.' He showed me drawings of the buildings, etc. But he said, 'This will only happen if Empire works.' And that was something else I had thing I had to carry on my shoulders. I thought, 'Wow, what a dream! That's incredible!' You know, it's not like saying, 'Look, we're going to make a lot of money!' It's saying, 'We're going to build something.' And that was the difference fo r me. That's what hooks me every time. You know, money itself means nothing. It's what's done with it that matters.
"So, George convinced me. Actually, he didn't have to try very hard."´
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