The Walt Disney Company has officially announced that director J.J. Abrams will begin filming Star Wars: Episode VII in May.  Meanwhile at Disney’s annual shareholders meeting that was held today, Mouse House prexy Bob Iger let it slip that Episode VII will take place 30 years after the events in Return of the Jedi and will feature “very familiar faces” along with a trio of young leads.
Since Return of the Jedi hit theaters in 1983, the 30-year time gap makes sense and indicates that characters age in the Star Wars galaxy in much the same way that they do in ours.  A great deal of mystery has surrounded the Star Wars project from the beginning.  While news leaked out that Abrams had scrapped Michael Arndt’s script and was writing a new one with Lawrence Kasdan (The Empire Strikes Back, see "Kasdan, Abrams Take Over 'Star Wars VII' Writing"), there was little indication of exactly which characters would be featured, though "inside reports" indicated that Abrams and Co. wanted to recapture the elan and swashbuckling optimism of the original trilogy (see "Disney Is Taking 'Star Wars' Back to Its Roots"). 

Adam Driver from Girls is the first announced cast member in the new film (see “First ‘Star Wars VII’ Casting”). Variety is also reporting that Downton Abbey’s Ed Speelers, Attack the Block’s John Boyega, and Friday Night Lights’ Jesse Plemmons are all "battling for lead roles."