'The Empire Strikes Back' director Irvin Kershner has died at the age of 87.

The filmmaker - who took over from George Lucas to create the sequel to 'Star Wars' - died at his home today (29.11.10) following a long battle with illness.

Irvin, who was known as Kersh to many of his friends, also worked on the movies 'RoboCop 2' and "unofficial" James Bond film 'Never Say Never Again starring Sean Connery.

He began his career as a film teacher at the University of Southern California but moved into movies as a photographer and director.

In later life he also made guest appearances in films including 'The Last Temptation of Christ' by Martin Scorsese.

'Star Trek' actor Simon Pegg left a tribute to the star on twitter, said: "RIP Irvin Kershner director of The Empire Strikes Back. For me, yours was the best of all."

He was believed to be working on a number of movies at the time of his death.