Along with these insights, the article from The Times has added a new name to the casting rumor list: 12 Years A Slave star Chiwetel Ejiofor.
Ejiofor will be known to sci-fi fans as the scene-stealing, nameless agent pursuing Captain Mal Reynolds and company in Joss Whedon's Serenity, the big-screen sequel to the fan-favorite series Firefly. The article from The Times appears to merely observe Ejiofor's presence at Abrams' production company, but is it also a hint that he has been cast, as Jedi News observes?
Ejiofor is considered a front-runner in the Best Actor Oscar race for his role in director Steve McQueen's slavery drama, and he's one of the most charismatic actors currently working. Among the names said to be considered for parts in the new Star Wars movie, only Saoirse Ronan has confirmed that an audition took place. Expect some kind of update or confirmation where actors are concerned soon enough.
Rumor-fuel aside, does this tell us anything new? Sort of, yes. We've assumed up to now that Abrams knew he'd have to bridge the generations with this seventh film, along with setting a tone for a new trilogy and furthering the saga in a way that will satisfy fans old and young - a task both thankless and almost impossible.
Still, we know Abrams is up to the technical side of things (his Star Trek films can almost be classified as his Star Wars dry runs), but even this small insight offers the hope that Episode VII really can expand this universe even further, making the case for a series of spin-offs even stronger.
Star Wars: Episode VII remains tentatively set for a 2015 theatrical release.