Estonian film, theater actor Arvo Kukumägi dies at 58 ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Arvo Kukumägi.
Arvo Kukumägi. Source: (Kairit Leibold/ERR)

Arvo Kukumägi, a prolific Estonian film and theater actor often referred to simply as Kuku, died on Tuesday, aged 58.

Kukumägi was born Aug. 9, 1958 in Litvina village in the Southeastern Estonian region of Setomaa.

He began his film acting career while a theater student with the short film "Tattoo" ("Tätoveering") in 1977.

In 1980, he graduated from Tallinn State Conservatory's Performing Arts Department and from 1980-1984 worked as an actor at the Estonian SSR State Youth Theatre, after which he continued work as a freelance actor. "I am a free man as of the winter of 1984," Kukumägi said recently on ETV culture broadcast "OP" in reference to his departure from the Youth Theatre.

Film producer Peeter Simm spoke of the departed actor on morning radio show "Vikerhommik," describing him with words borrowed from colleague Tõnu Karg: "Ten or so years ago he said that your day may be gray, mucky and a total failure, but then you get together with Kuku and after that your day is no longer glum."

Simm added that Kukumägi's actor instinct extended into his everyday life as well. "Of those on whom his magic worked, he interacted with everyone exactly the same way — from the president to a drunkard sitting in front of any store in Setomaa," he said describing the actor.

"Kuku's ideal landscape was passionate burning of which many of us shared, but few saw up close — as is always the case with sensitive creators," President Kersti Kaljulaid wrote on social media. "A man who brought joy to thousands and who simply asked that his ashes be spread in Setomaa — there he can converse with friends departed from this world. He will forever remain our conversation partner. And early dog-violets are blooming in his memory."

Kukumägi acted or appeared in 50 films and 13 plays, most recently as Rein in Rainer Sarnet's 2016 film "November," based on Andrus Kivirähk's novel "Rehepapp."

Editor: Aili Vahtla

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