The Star Wars: Episode VII rumor mill was starting to reach Marvel/DC levels of confusion for a while, but thankfully we now have a firmer grasp on where the project is at in pre-production. Director J.J. Abrams is currently finishing work on the script with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back), based on an earlier draft written by Michael Arndt (Toy Story 3). Meanwhile, casting is ongoing and has even been opened up to thousands of newcomers, so to find the ideal candidates to play a new generation of heroes and villains in the Star Wars universe.

Mind you, a casting breakdown leaked online four months ago – which seems legit, despite still being unconfirmed – listing no less than seven new main characters who will be introduced in Episode VII, so it’s not as though the film won’t include any established actors/actresses (besides expected returnees Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher, that is). Indeed, this past month alone, we’ve heard a new rumor about lauded actor Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) circling the new Star Wars movie, in addition to rising star Michael B. Jordan’s (Fruitvale Station) confirmation that he tried out for a role.

We’re still awaiting for the official announcement that Anthony Daniels will reprise as well-mannered protocol droid C-3PO in Episode VII, even though much like his plucky astromech droid companion R2-D2 – another character who has appeared in the six previous Star Wars movies and often served as the audience’s proxy – it seems more like a matter of when, not if, as far as confirmation goes. Well, perhaps we’ve already gotten as much, based on this image that Abrams has revealed through the official Bad Robot Twitter page:

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The above pre-production image features Abrams alongside R2-D2, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and members of the Bad Robot team at the studio’s workshop, with the caption “Hi from the workshop! #StarWarsVII.” Besides the obvious suggestion that, of course R2 will be lending a helping hand to the young, smart and athletic warriors from a galaxy far, far away that will debut in Episode VII, is this a sign that Abrams and Co. intend to use social media to keep fans buzzing throughout filming on the next Star Wars movie?

Over the past year, director Marc Webb used Twitter to great effect during production on The Amazing Spider-Man 2, by fueling the fires of fan discussion by unveiling a Twitter photo a day. Similarly, director Bryan Singer has sporadically released photos from the X-Men: Days of Future Past movie set (and even the editing room), so that X-fans might dissect and analyze them to their heart’s content. Moreover, Webb and Singer have managed to maintain more secrecy around their projects by using this method, which is something that spoiler-phobic Abrams should find appealing (see: how to keep fans in the loop on Episode VII‘s development without giving away too much).

On the other hand, there seems to be some division among the ranks of Episode VII producers, what with Kennedy having previously said that she thinks it would be useful to embrace the mentality of Internet culture (read: keep fans engaged by feeding them bread crumbs during filming). However, not long after Kennedy made those comments, Episode VII producer Bryan Burk spoke out about the joys of knowing as little as possible about a movie ahead of time. So, who knows, maybe images like the one included here will be as good as it gets.

Star Wars: Episode VII opens in theaters on December 18th, 2015.

Source: Bad Robot