Born: August 10, 1957, Leningrad, USSR (now, St. Petersburg, Russia)
Died: July 4, 2006, Odessa, Ukraine
His father, now well-known Petersburg actor Ivan Krasko, had by the time of his son's birth just entered the Drama Institute. Before that, Andrei's father-to-be studied at the philology department of the Leningrad University, where he met Andrei's mother-to-be Kira Vassilievna Petrova. They had two children, Andryusha and Yulia. Of course, the burden of raising kids was mainly on mother's shoulders. Andrei spoke of her with great warmth: "...Mom gave all her life to me. I was an ailing child and she — a Russian language and literature teacher of senior school — left it and started working as a kindergartener. And when I studied at a primary school, she came every day at the break and took me to the toilet. The buttonholes of the school trousers were very tight, mom helped me do and undo them".
Andrei was not a stage-grown kid, but managed to get onto stage before his third birthday. At the time, his father was an actor with University theater Drama, and his mother took him to the play. No sooner appeared Krasko Sr. on stage than the son jumped off mama's lap, made straight for the stage and announced: "That's my dad". Andrei played his first part in his kindergarten: dad was Grandfather Frost (Russian Santa Claus), and he was a bunny.
Growing up, our hero showed no special interest in actorship. When a sixth grader, he came to the Theater of Youth Creativity, but during the two years he studied there he mostly managed stage lights. The boy wanted to become a cosmonaut, and a doctor, and a fireman, and a miner, but never an actor. This was why his wish to enter the acting department of a drama institute came so unexpectedly for everybody. And the secret was that, in Andrei's own words, "this is the only line of work where you can be anybody you want". The first attempt failed: Krasko Jr. prepared for exams poorly, and his father, having given him a scolding for this, refused to pull strings for his son. All next season was to be spent by the young man working as a stagehand in Komissarzhevskaya theater. Yet, whatever happens — does so for the best: the next year, Andrei had prepared thoroughly and, without using any connections, entered the class of outstanding masters Arkady Katzman and Lev Dodin at the Leningrad State Institute of Theater, Music, and Cinematography (LGITMiK). The year became famous because of legendary production Brothers and Sisters, our hero studied here together with Natalya Akimova, Yelena Popova, Igor Sklyar, Sergei Vlasov, Sergei Bekhterev, Valery Kukhareshin, Sergei Koshonin.
Tomsk TYuZ (Theater of Young Spectators)
In 1979, upon graduation from the institute, the class in its full complement was to leave for Tomsk TYuZ — such a present the Leningrad party bosses chose to make to their Tomsk counterparts. Naturally, this produced no enthusiasm in young actors: somebody managed to avoid the exile for good reasons, the rest started to scatter away from Tomsk already in several months. Andrei lasted maybe longer than others — in excess of a year. What is more, he does not regret it, the season brought him the luck to act in nine plays and acquire, in his words, stunning professional hardiness. Yet, he saw no further prospects for himself there and was happy to leave Siberia, when an opportunity presented itself to leave for shooting. To all appearance, it was at that time when he was invited to act in a film by Dinara Asanova. The Good-for-Nothing showed Andrei but in a bit part, but later on he sat next to the director through the entire movie during both shooting and editing.
In early 80s, after shooting with Dinara Asanova, Andrei Krasko succeeded to join the Leningrad theater bearing the name of Leninsky Komsomol (Young Communist League), now Baltic House, under a remarkable director Gennady Oporkov.
The first and, alas, the only for many long years, major dramatic work for our hero was the title role in play Kukaracha, which premiered in Leninsky Komsomol theater in 1982. The figure of district militia officer Georgy Tushurashvili nicknamed Kukaracha as rendered by Krasko was deemed by the commission as noncompliant with the moral and ethical character of the Soviet protector of law and order. Of course, it was not Krasko who had written the play and not he who had directed the production, but it was he who suffered the most. A month before coming of call-up age, he was drafted into the army. However, this can be taken as recognition of his talent: the big brass, fascinated by his convincing performance, unwittingly equated the actor with his character.
Army and consequences
Andrei was sent to serve to the air defense forces in the Arkhangelsk region. In the army, Krasko dealt with "culture", and so successfully that the Lenin rooms decorated under his guidance were always pronounced the best; as a reward for good organization of two concerts in Arkhangelsk, a general in person granted him a leave. Overall, the service itself did not bring our hero much trouble. However, judge for yourself how the sudden draft into the army affected the creative life of the actor.
Even before leaving for the army, Andrei had been confirmed for a part of "bad" child institution worker in Dinara Asanova's film Lads. Alas, Krasko was not destined to work with this remarkable director again: Lads were shot without him, and Asanova did not live to see him return from the army. While Andrei served, Gennady Oporkov died, too; without him, the actor's work in Leninsky Komsomol theater did not come to much: with some insignificant parts to his name, he quit its stage heading for nowhere. Having failed to get fixed up in a job with any Leningrad theater, Krasko left for the provinces. In Dimitrovgrad, where he found employment, the company could boast with but one more actor with higher professional education. Andrei had no occasion to play anything meaningful in the theater. And when Dmitry Svetozarov invited him to act in Inrush, they would not let Krasko go and the actor had to quit the theater.
After the shooting, Andrei Krasko found himself out of job again. It was just the time when the perestroika started in the country, and both stage and screen fared far from well. There was still no work for Andrei in theater, and just bit parts came his way now and then in the movies. The only exception turned out to be the role in a thriller of the same Svetozarov, Hounds. The actor had to earn his living in different ways: he sewed pants and jackets, mixed mortar at a cemetery, sold books, was in charge of a dancing circle attached to a factory, worked as a cabman in a car bought with borrowed money.
A new page in the actor's creative life was opened by work in Dmitry Svetozarov's serial Agent of National Security. The part of Andrei Krasnov, the partner of Lyokha Nikolayev, was written by one of script writers, Vladimir Vardunas, — Andrei's old-time friend — expressly for him and on his own request. Thanks to the actor's talent and charm, his character, who had appeared in the serial kind of accidentally, became life and soul of the movie.
On the heels of Agent..., roles started coming as if from the horn of plenty. Since 1998, when the first installments of Agent of National Security appeared, Krasko had not a year of idle time in the movies. The actor was in luck's way, as he thought himself, with directors. He acted in films by Rogozhkin, Meskhiev, Balabanov, Bodrov Jr., Loungine, Khotinenko, Litvinova, Bondarchuk.
Lately, Andrei Krasko has enjoyed a lot of shooting engagements and often had to combine work in several projects at once. He has been assisted in this by a veritable expert in the profession — his agent Liza Krutsko (Marat Basharov's wife).
Everything proved to be going far from smoothly with the theater. Yet, in 1999 director Pyotr Sherishevsky invited Andrei Krasko for the part of Aleksandrov in Dog's Waltz after Leonid Andreyev. The play was a success, and critique noted Krasko's work. In a year, in the same Comedian's Haven theater, Georgy Vasiliev staged V. Yerofeyev's poem Moscow-Petushki, where the actor of course starred as Venichka. Then, on the stage of Komissarzhevskaya theater in Valery Grishko's production Andorra, Andrei Krasko was a soldier, a sort of a master of life with everything at his disposal.
Probably, for the longest time, Andrei did not part with one of his favorite characters — Tarelkin from a private company production of well-known director Yuri Butusov Tarelkin's Death after a play by Sukhovo-Kobylin. He participated in the project along with such celebrities as Khabensky, Porechenkov, Vakha. Their many engagements elsewhere resulted in an impossibility of getting them together, and the play came to be no more.
And lastly, the extant play graced with participation of our hero, Men by the Hour, is a typical private company production. But even here, Krasko was splendid and inimitable. While working on the play, the actor had to assume the functions of a director as the initially assigned one proved to be quite a failure.
For some time, in 2003-4, Andrei anchored Who's the Master of the House? show on the Culture TV channel. Unfortunately, the pressure of work made the actor give it up.
Andrei's first wife was his same-year student, Natalya Akimova. They got married still studying at the institute and parted rather soon.
In early 80s, Krasko married again, this time a Pole, Miriam Aleksandrowicz, who studied in Russia. She bore Andrei a son, who was named Ivan after the grandfather. Though the marriage existed legally for many years, the spouses did not practically live as a couple. Mother and son left for Poland, while the happy father remained in homeland.
Besides two formal wives, Andrei's life had room for quite a few other women. In late 90s, namely, May 17, 1998, one of them, Margarita, bore him the second son. He was named Kirill after Andrei's mother, Kira. In dad's words, Kirill is a very household kid, he likes order and cars. Andrei Ivanovich saw him rather often and spoke of him with much warmth in interviews.
Neither he lost touch with his older son and met him regularly enough if not too often. Jan Andrzej, as he came to be known, followed in his grandfather's and father's steps: he did already an episode in Agent of National Security, whereas in Poland he played a leading role in a popular youth serial.
Side by side with him for the last two years has been Svetlana Kuznetsova.
...Just before midnight, Ukrainian time, on July 4, 2006, Andrei Krasko died of heart failure on location of a new film "Liquidation" near Odessa. He was short a month of 49 years old.
The burial service was held in the Church on Konyushennaya, a sacred place for the Russian culture, on July 7. Andrei Krasko was buried in Komarovo, not far from Anna Akhmatova.