Indiana, PA - Indiana County

Indiana man cast in boxing film

by on June 15, 2014 2:00 AM

John Varescak, of Indiana, was so enthused about being an extra in the movie that’s being filmed partially in Indiana this month that he took two weeks off work so he would be available.

When he went to the casting call, he got more than he bargained for.

Varescak has been chosen to play a ringside boxing official during filming of “Southpaw,” about a boxer who fights his way to the top only to find his life falling apart around him.

“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” said Varescak, who said he arrived at 5 a.m. on the first day of casting calls at the Indiana Mall.

He said he does not anticipate having any speaking parts, but his role should put him in pretty close proximity to the film’s stars, Jake Gyllenhaal (Billy Hope) and Rachel McAdams (his wife, Maureen Hope). The movie also stars Lupita Nyong’o and Forest Whitaker, according to Internet Movie Database.

“I’m thrilled, I never in a million years imagined this would happen to me,” Varescak said.

Filming at the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex is expected to start Monday.

At least 1,500 people are needed as extras to make up the audience for the boxing matches that will be set at the KCAC, which will be transformed into New York’s Madison Square Garden and a venue in Las Vegas.

Casting calls were held on several days in May.

Varescak said a member of the casting department contacted him to ask if he owns a tuxedo. He does, so he was able to send a photo of himself and a brief biography, and he got the part. He said he was fitted recently for his costume — a burgundy blazer with a white dress shirt, black pants and a tie.

The movie, being directed by Ambridge High School graduate Antoine Fuqua and produced by independent filmmaker Hope Films Inc., will be shot at the KCAC for about two weeks before cast and crew head to Pittsburgh.

News editor Jason Levan has been with the Gazette for more than 15 years. He oversees the newspaper’s reporting and photography staff, coordinating much of the local content, as well as planning for various special projects. He is also very involved in the layout and design of the newspaper. He can be reached at or (724) 465-5555, ext. 270.
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