The first announcement of a character appearing in Episode VII was about as unsurprising as it gets. In a post
on The Official Star Wars
Blog, Lucasfilm revealed that lovable astromech droid and rolling intergalactic Swiss army knife R2-D2 "will indeed be in the film." The announcement followed a tweeted photograph
from Bad Robot Productions which showed J.J. Abrams, Kathleen Kennedy, R2-D2, and two unnamed people, with the caption, "Hi from the workshop!" StarWars.com's blog post
went on to introduce those two new members of the film's crew:
Meet Lee Towersey and Oliver Steeples, Star Wars fans and members of the worldwide R2-D2 Builders Club. They create fully functioning, film-accurate astromech droids like the R2-D2 seen in the photo, and they’re officially part of the Creature Effects team for Star Wars: Episode VII. They didn’t apply for their jobs, but still had what is probably the best reference one could hope for.
We'll continue to keep you apprised of all future casting announcements, and hopefully we'll get a flesh-and-blood name in the not-too-distant future.