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George Lucas, Irvin Kershner

Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images; Eric Charbonneau/Le Studio/Wireimage

Clearly the Force was strong between George Lucas and Irvin Kershner.

The man who handed his proverbial light saber over for the Star Wars followup, The Empire Strikes Back, is fondly remembering the "friend and colleague" who passed away on Saturday at the age of 87.

"The world has lost a great director and one of the most genuine people I've had the pleasure of knowing," Lucas said in a statement sent to E! News. "Irvin Kershner was a true gentleman in every sense of the word."

The Star Wars creator went on to recall how his and Kershner's paths actually crossed a long time ago at a school not too far away.

"I knew him from USC—I attended his lectures and he was on the festival panel that gave the prize to my THX short. I considered him a mentor," he pointed out.

Not to mention someone Lucas obviously felt comfortable turning to when it came time to do a sequel to his 1977 blockbuster.

Following Star Wars, I knew one thing for sure: I didn't want to direct the second movie myself," said Lucas. "I needed someone I could trust, someone I really admired and whose work had maturity and humor. That was Kersh all over. 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, and I knew Kersh was the guy to help me do it."

And how.