S. Epatha Merkerson
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
S. Epatha Merkerson
(© Joseph Marzullo/WENN)
S. Epatha Merkerson and Ernie Sabella have been cast in The Challenger, according to a report on Deadline.com. Kent Moran is writing and directing the project.

The film focuses on an auto mechanic in the Bronx (to be played by writer/director Moran), who must return to his life as a boxer after he and his mother (Merkerson) are evicted from their home. The cast will also feature Michael Clarke Duncan, Justin Hartley and Lindsay Hartley.

Merkerson received Tony Award nominations for her performances in Come Back, Little Sheba and The Piano Lesson. Among her other theater credits are Birdie Blue, F*cking A, and Three Ways Home. The actress received both an Emmy and Golden Globe Award for her performance in the television version of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's Lackawanna Blues and may be best known for her portrayal of Lieutenant Van Buren on NBC's Law & Order.

Sabella's Broadway credits include Curtains, Sweet Charity, Man of La Mancha, and Chicago on Broadway. In addition, he has voiced the role of Pumbaa in not only the original animated feature The Lion King but also in the sequels to the movie.