BOOM, Belgium — Dance music DJs have appeared in countless movie cameos over the years, usually in silent roles and more often than not playing themselves behind the decks.
But audiences in Belgium – and at a special, first-ever movie premiere at the Tomorrowland grounds tonight (July 20) – will experience something different when Dimitri Thivaios, one half of EDM duo Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike, barrels through the streets of Antwerp behind the wheel of a gold-colored Lexus, as the first major DJ to star in a feature-length movie.
In the Belgian dark comedy H4Z4RD, Thivaios plays Noah Hazard, a jobless slacker in a track suit with a gambling problem who loves his vanity-plated sports car, his daughter and his girlfriend, and is looking for the easy score. After picking up his cousin Carlos, who recently got out of prison — taking the blame for a crime they were both involved in — trouble ensues when Carlos and his sidekick steal a metal case containing bottles of blue pills from a drug-dealing woman who doesn’t hesitate to shoot as Noah drives the getaway car.
After the dealer kidnaps Noah’s young daughter, Zita, she demands he hand over the pills, Carlos and what remains of the accomplice — or see Zita die. By the end of the film, both Thivaios and his beloved car are streaked with blood, and he is fighting for his life.
Thivaios not only stars in the film, but is one of its credited producers, and helped director Jonas Govaerts select the music syncs, the DJ-producer tells Billboard. The kinetic score is an homage to the 1990s-2000s, and will warm the hearts of fans of classic Euro-trance — with featured tracks like ATB’s “9 am (Till I Come),” Tiësto’s “Adagio For Strings” and the Jam & Spoon “Watch Out For Stella” remix of “Age Of Love.”
Hollywood is not undiscovered turf for big-name DJs. Tiësto, Carl Cox and Fat Boy Slim appeared in It’s All Gone Pete Tong. Calvin Harris holds up a metal case for a few seconds in the Entourage movie. Dillon Francis, Alesso and Nicky Romero turned up in brief shots in We Are Your Friends. Deadmau5 donned the Mau5 head in Runner Runner, DJing as Justin Timberlake’s character walks through a club. Even Skrillex appeared (sort of) as an animated version of himself behind the decks in Wreck-It Ralph.
But Thivaios appears in every scene of the 86-minute H4Z4RD, which is essentially his character’s perspective on a single day of mayhem in Antwerp – and the camera never leaves the car until the film’s climactic scene.
The DJ has appeared in films before, including a bit role as a Maltese smuggler in this summer’s box office smash Jurassic World Dominion, a role he scored prior to the pandemic and which required him to quarantine in his London hotel before stepping on set. (Thiavos did his filming for Jurassic World Dominion at the city’s Pinewood Studios, where films like the James Bond, Batman and Mission Impossible franchises have been made.) He also played a bouncer in 2019’s Rambo: Last Blood, and Thivaios says he has been taking acting lessons for a few years. But it was only due to the pandemic shutdown of live shows that he was able to commit to a six-week shoot last summer.
“I did small parts in big movies and then all of a sudden I get a big part in a smaller movie, but it’s a big thing for me,” Thivaios told Billboard backstage at Tomorrowland this past Sunday. He says he’s “super nervous” about tonight’s premiere, which Tomorrowland co-founder Michiel Beers (who also manages Dimitri Vegas and Like Mike) is organizing.
“I can’t wait to see it,” says Like Mike, real name Michael Thivaios, who is Dimitri’s younger brother. “I haven’t seen it yet.”
The film, which is in Flemish, is being distributed in the Benelux (Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg) by Kinepolis Film Distribution (KFD) and Dutch FilmWorks (DFW) and will be released in Belgian theaters this week. The producers are currently in negotiations for U.S. and global distribution, Thivaios says.
H4Z4RD, which premieres tonight at 7:45 p.m. CEST at Tomorrowland’s Freedom stage, is dedicated to Dimitrios “Takis” Thivaios, the father of the Belgian-Greek brothers, who died last year.