Monday, November 29, 2010

A Highly Under Rated Director

Director Irvin Kershner Dead at 87

Here’s a link to the AP story. Not much there, unfortunately. You’ll get a better feel for the man through this terrific Vanity Fair interview that ran just last month in honor of the thirtieth anniversary of “The Empire Strikes Back,” the best of the “Star Wars” film and quite possibly the greatest sequel ever made:

Vanity Fair:
One of the biggest surprises in the book is that, in 1980, you had to convince interviewers you were not just following George’s direction. Obviously no one thinks that today. What was the biggest argument you and George had over a particular scene?

There was really only one disagreement. It was the Carbon Freeze scene when Princess Leia says, “I love you.” Han Solo’s response in the script was, “I love you, too.” I shot the line and it just didn’t seem right for the character of Han Solo. So we worked on the scene on the set. We kept trying different things and couldn’t get the right line. We were into the lunch break and I said to Harrison try it again and just do whatever comes to mind. That is when Harrison said the line, “I know.” After the take, I said to my assistant director, David Tomblin, “It’s a wrap.” David looked at me in disbelief and said something like, “Hold on, we just went to overtime. You’re not happy with that, are you?” And I said, yes, it’s the perfect Han Solo remark, and so we went to lunch. George saw the first cut and said, “Wait a minute, wait a minute. That’s not the line in the script.” I said ““I love you, too’ was not Han Solo.” Han Solo was a rebel. George felt that the audience would laugh. And I said, that’s wonderful, he is probably going to his death for all they know. We sat in the room and he thought about it. He then asked me, “Did you shoot the line in the script?” I said yes. So we agreed that we would do two preview screenings once the film was cut and set to music with the line in and then with the line out. At the first preview in San Francisco, the house broke up after Han Solo said I know. When the film was over, people came up and said that is the most wonderful line and it worked. So George decided not to have the second screening.

George was the best producer I ever worked with. He left me alone and only came to England a few times. I told George at one point that I was behind schedule, not that it was anyone’s fault, but because it was so complex. Many of the special effects that were done on set often did not work at all. His answer was, “Keep doing what you are doing. Just keep shooting.” This was the greatest thing for a director to hear from a producer.

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