Star Wars: Episode VII rumors have been running rampant ever since the new film was announced the moment Disney purchased Lucasfilm and the Star Wars franchise from creator George Lucas.

First the rumors all circled around who would direct the new franchise, and that was finally settled when Disney hired Lost creator and the man responsible for the resurrection of Star Trek, J.J. Abrams to lead the charge.

Next came the rumors about the old cast members from the original series returning in some capacity for the new films. We then heard about actors such as Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher going on diets to drop some pounds so they could appear in the new movies.

Now the latest rumor involves an actor who was in both the original series and the prequels released by George Lucas, who could be making a return from the dead (sort of) in the new movies that will begin with Star Wars: Episode VII in 2015.

According to several news sites, Ian McDiarmid is apparently rumored to reprise his role as Emperor Palpatine in the new Star Wars series.

Of course the obvious question about his return is how that would happen considering the last time we saw the Emperor he was being tossed down an energy shaft by a one-handed Darth Vader in Return of the Jedi.

Well, the rumors (if they are true) say that Palpatine would return in the new film as a ghost Sith Lord similar to the way that Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda both appeared in past films after they died.

The real kicker to this whole rumor mill is why Palpatine is returning as a ghost—it’s because he had another apprentice in training that will be the new antagonist in the upcoming film series that he was preparing to take over for Darth Vader.

In the prequels, Palpatine had several apprentices that he was mentoring from Darth Maul to Darth Vader, so if this rumor is true he had set up a new person to take over in case Vader met his demise (which he did).

Now like any Star Wars: Episode VII rumor, everything has to be taken with a grain of salt, but given McDiarmid’s age (he’s only 69) and part in both the original series and the prequels, his return could be an easy transition to the new power that will end up serving as the big bad in the new franchise.

Other news and rumors swirling about Star Wars Episode VII:

    ⁃    Star Wars Episode VII like the original predecessors will be shot on film instead of shooting on digital cameras.  George Lucas made it a point to switch to digital cameras for the final two episodes of the Star Wars prequel trilogy, but it appears new director J.J. Abrams and the folks behind Lucasfilm at Disney want the new movie to look more like the original films that ended with The Return of the Jedi.   Dan Mindel, who did the shooting for both Star Trek films under Abrams' lead, will be Director of Photography for the new Star Wars project as well and that's where he revealed that the new movie would be shot on 35mm film.
    ⁃    According to a report from Badass Digest, the producers behind Star Wars Episode VII are contemplating a late 2015 release date for the film.  Star Wars films in the past have always been released in May, but with Disney already planning a major film release for May 2015 (The Avengers 2: Age of Ultron) it seems a little crazy to compete against yourself for the same movie dollars.  The idea currently floating around would put Star Wars Episode VII at a mid-December 2015 release date with principle photography on the project taking place next year. Variety however countered with a story stating that there was no truth to the late 2015 release date news.  There will be crowded space for every summer blockbuster in 2015, but The Avengers 2 and Star Wars Episode VII are expected to pull in the most money of any films for the entire year.
    ⁃    A new comic book will be released in September called 'The Star Wars', which will be an original telling of the script that George Lucas first wrote before revising for the version we all know and love today.  Lucas originally wrote the script in 1974, but made several major changes before the film was completed and released in 1977. In that version, Luke Skywalker was an old, grizzled war veteran and Darth Vader was just another soldier in the Sith Army. Han Solo is still a featured character, but in this version he's a giant lizard.  The comic book series will compete its initial run and then be released as a graphic novel collected all the stories into one volume.