For most Star Wars fans, out of all nine movies in the Skywalker Saga, the consensus is that the best of the whole series was “Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back.” We were lucky enough to host the film’s director, Irvin Kershner, screening a pristine 35mm print that Kersh personally approved. Not surprisingly, demand for tickets to this event was so high that, for the first time in the entire initial run of Hollywood’s Master Storytellers, we had to add a second show and Kersh was gracious enough to stick around for a brief pre-screening Q&A so that audiences for both shows got to hear his stories and insights.
Irvin Kershner first met George Lucas when Lucas was a student at what is now the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts and Kershner was an instructor there. Prior to “Empire,” he directed several successful Hollywood movies including “The Flim-Flam Man” with George C. Scott, “Up the Sandbox” with Barbra Streisand, and the critically acclaimed TV movie, “Raid on Entebbe” based on the true story of the Israeli rescue mission. He also directed Sean Connery in his return to the role of James Bond in the “Thunderball” remake, “Never Say Never Again.” Lucas personally recruited Kershner to direct “Empire,” wanting to hand off directing tasks so he could focus on producing. “Empire” marks the introduction of the iconic character of Yoda, who took the form of a Muppet performed both physically and vocally by Muppets co-creator Frank Oz. In this clip, Kershner discusses the challenges of having human actors interacting with a puppet and getting believable performances out of both Yoda and Luke Skywalker.