Franchises have their drawbacks, but we here at Screen Rant have recognized for some time now that building movie universes is the current trend in Hollywood (see: the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Fast and the Furious series, and so on). As such, one of the next logical steps is to expand to the small screen, all the more so because it's generally acknowledged that television is enjoying something of a golden age right now; at least, in terms of cable entertainment (see: Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Game of Thrones, Homeland, etc., etc.).
Marvel Studios is testing the waters of television (in terms of the live-action MCU, that is) with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. premiering this week, but for Star Wars life on the small screen is nothing new. However, now that Disney owns Lucasfilm, the iconic galaxy far, far away is getting retooled - hence the Mouse House canceled Star Wars: The Clone Wars - for a new generation of movie/TV fans, starting with the new computer-animated TV series Star Wars Rebels (premiering in 2014) and followed by Star Wars: Episode VII hitting theaters in 2015.
THR is reporting that Lucasfilm Animation/Disney is currently lining up a voice cast for Star Wars Rebels, with the list of people who are currently in negotiations including Davis Oyelowo (Lee Daniels' The Butler) and Freddie Prinze Jr. (24), as well as cartoon voice actor Steven Jay Blum (Transformers Prime) and voice actress Vanessa Marshall (The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Young Justice), and lesser-known actor Taylor Gray (Bucket and Skinner's Epic Adventures).
Oyelowo, as it were, is rumored to have auditioned for a role in Episode VII. Could it be that Disney and Lucasfilm want to collaborate with the acclaimed actor, yet his increasingly demanding work schedule (he'll next costar in Christopher Nolan's sci-fi film Interstellar) forced him to negotiate for a less-time-consuming role in Star Wars Rebels instead of Episode VII? Or it is possible that Oyelowo's in negotiations for both projects (or, alternatively, one of the film spinoffs?).
The former of the two potential scenario seems to be the more likely, if only because Rebels is going to take place during the 10-20 years that separate Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV - A New Hope - and thus, probably won't focus so much on characters who will be important to the new movie trilogy. On the other hand, if Disney /Lucasfilm want to establish stronger ties between the Star Wars TV and movie universes, then featuring a new player addition who's in both (e.g. Oyelowo) could be one way to accomplish that end.
Star Wars Rebels is being executive produced by Dave Filoni - the former supervising director on Star Wars: The Clone Wars - in addition to Greg Weisman (creator of Disney’s animated Gargoyles TV series from the 1990s) and Simon Kinberg, who is consulting on Episode VII and writing one of the origin story Star Wars spinoffs. Kinberg, one assumes, may also be involved with threading more connections between the new Star Wars TV show and movie universes.
Not to mention, since most of the main players on Rebels are reported to be ordinary teenagers, there is the slight chance that one (or more) of them could appear in either the spinoffs and/or Episode VII-IX in older form (a la Luke/Leia Skywalker and Han Solo in Episode VII... and beyond?). Be sure and let us know if you think that sounds like a reasonable guess and/or a good plan for tying together the Star Wars universe (as portrayed in the film/TV mediums) hereon out.
Star Wars Rebels will premiere on Disney XD in Fall 2014.