Celebrity News

TrueBliss star Erika Takacs’ outrageous stunts

The pop star talks about her exciting career change and travelling the globe with five kids!

When you start off your career as a popstar, it’s hard to imagine how life could get more adventurous. But TrueBliss singer Erika Takacs has built a life anyone would find exciting – working all over the world as a stunt department coordinator, collecting a husband, five children and countless stamps in her passport along the way!

Erika, 45, was introduced to the stunt world through hubby Allan Poppleton, 51, an Emmy-nominated stunt coordinator and performer, who she met in 2003 at a barbecue at her sister’s place.

“I always wanted to marry somebody who was going to love me as much, if not more, than I loved them because I had a lot to give – and Al had way more than I ever expected,” smiles Erika, who hails from Wellington.

Auckland-born Allan is equally smitten with his wife of 14 years.

“She’s a pretty special human,” he gushes. “The passion she has for everybody in her life is endless.”

The couple soon became a team professionally as well as romantically when Erika felt she needed a change from producing and presenting music show Ready To Roll while also working in PR.

“Al was doing a horror film called 30 Days Of Night and said, ‘Why don’t you come help me out and if you like it, then maybe we can keep doing this?’ And that was it – the journey began.”

As the department coordinator, Erika dealt with the production aspects of the stunt team, but she soon found herself getting roped into performing her own daredevil acts as well.

“I’ve done some stunt training, but I would never want to take away from the actual stunt professionals – I have the utmost respect for them,” Erika explains. “I’ve got in there because it’s like, ‘We need a female agent!’ and the director goes, ‘Can we use Erika?'”

She has performed stunts alongside Dawyne “The Rock” Johnson in films such as Jungle Cruise, Rampage and Central Intelligence, for which she trained with an FBI advisor. Erika grins, “It was ridiculously fun.”

Because Allan’s job is to create stunts for big-budget action movies, their work has taken the daredevil couple all around the world.

“Our first away job together – Prince Caspian in Prague – was when I found out I was having Scarlett,” recalls Erika, who’s now stepmum to Tai, 24, as well as mum to Scarlett, 15, Maximus, 12, Parker, nine, and Evelyn, four. “It seemed like every job we would go away and work on, I would come back pregnant!”

Erika and Allan with their kids (from left) Tai, Evelyn, Scarlett, Max and Parker.

As their family grew, Allan and Erika brought the whole team along on their travels. With the help of a nanny and a school tutor, the couple managed to balance their long workdays and gruelling schedule with quality time as a family.

“We’d have the kids in correspondence school so they would do their study and spend time with our nanny until we got home, and then we’d spend our weekends spoiling them because we hadn’t seen them for a week,” Erika shares.

Parker and Scarlett on the floor with J.Lo at Madame Tussauds Hollywood.

“The kids came with us to Queensland, Sydney, Boston, Atlanta and Hawai’i,” remembers Allan, adding that shooting Jungle Cruise on the island of Kauai is one of his favourite family memories.

“It was just idyllic,” agrees Erika. “We were working really long hours and six-day weeks, but on Sundays, we’d walk out of our apartment and it felt like we were on holiday with the kids.”

Though stunt teams rub shoulders with some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, Erika and Allan are low-key about their celebrity moments. Allan has worked with everyone from Jennifer Lawrence to Hugh Jackman, and has done multiple films with The Rock and Jason Statham.

“There’s been a pinch-me moment on every job I’ve worked on,” says Erika, who experienced a full-circle music moment when she met pop idol Kylie Minogue on the set of disaster flick San Andreas.

Life is a box of chocolates for Erika and a waxwork Tom Hanks.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to work together and do what we do. What’s been cool is seeing that the people we work with who are put on pedestals are very human – they’re just real people who are using their platforms for the greater good.”

After their youngest, Evie, was born, the couple made the decision that Erika and the kids would stay in Auckland full-time. These days, the singer has her hands full coordinating her family’s home life, especially when Allan is overseas for work.

“It’s obviously hard,” Allan says. “But one of the positives of this industry is when I come home, there might be a few months before the next gig, so the amount of time and connection we get to have then is pretty special.”

Living a nomadic life suited the kids when they were young: “It’s turned them into really beautiful, open characters.”

The Poppleton kids have a lot to keep them busy while Dad’s away, between dancing, sports, martial arts and music. And Erika says there’s already hints that stunts might run in the family.

“Max has got a hankering to do it and so does Scarlett because her dancing crosses over. But she’d also like to be an architect! They can do whatever they want and we’ll support them.”

As for Erika, the future’s wide open as well. “I still love singing with my TrueBliss girls and I’d love to get back into presenting. I’ve also been asked to be on certain reality TV shows, but I’m undecided. My life is really full, so it’s hard to think about what I’d like to do for myself – there’s only so much time in my day! I know I’ve got more to give, just where that ends up landing, I’m not sure.”

Popstar parade: Erika with her TrueBliss bandmates (from left) Megan Alatini, Joe Cotton and Keri Harper.

Whatever comes next, Erika and Allan are both grateful for the unconventional path their life has taken.

“We’re so lucky to have got to do everything we have as a family,” enthuses Erika. “All the travelling, it’s brought us closer together. The kids are very tight-knit as siblings because we’ve taken them away and they’ve seen so much of the world, it’s turned them into really beautiful, open characters. I think they’re really cool!”

Related stories