Irvin Kershner, best known as the director of the Star Wars sequel The Empire Strikes Back, has died in Los Angeles after a long illness at the age of 87. In a statement, George Lucas, who reportedly hired Kershner after being impressed with his work on The Eyes of Laura Mars , said that he had selected him because "I didn't want Empire to turn into just another sequel, another episode in a series of space adventures. ... I was trying to build something." Empire is regared by many Star Wars fans as the best of all the sequels and prequels. Kershner's other credits include Robocop 2 and Never Say Never Again.