Countdown to the Oscars: Meet the Susan Lucci of Sound Men

The race for the Oscars officially starts Tuesday, when the Academy Award nominations will be announced, and Kevin O'Connell could be nominated for his work on "The Pursuit of Happyness," "Apocalypto" and "The DaVinci Code."

If nominated, it will be Kevin O'Connell's 19th nomination.

"A Few Good Men," "Top Gun" and the "Spiderman" movies earned O'Connell Oscar nominations.

Those who haven't heard his name probably have heard his work. O'Connell has mixed the sound of more than 150 films.

"It's where all three elements of the movie -- the dialogue, music, and sound effects -- are blended together to create the sound design for a film," O'Connell told "Good Morning America."

One film can include tens of thousands of sounds, which can take months to mix. For one short explosion in the film "Déjà Vu," dozens of sounds were used to create six digital tracks.

"Making sure the sound is balanced -- in between sound effects and music and people's voices and even the sound of people's breathing and the sound of their clothing -- it's a very meticulous process," Mel Gibson said in 2004 from the mixing room for "The Passion of the Christ."

O'Connell mixed the sound for "The Passion" and later "Apocalypto."

Filmmakers like Barbra Streisand, Robert Redford, Ron Howard, Rob Reiner and Steven Spielberg count on O'Connell to make their movies' sound great.

He's earned 18 Academy Award nominations for mixing sound; the certificates are proudly displayed at his home. But there's no statue. O'Connell has never won -- an Oscar.

"Being nominated for an Academy Award 18 times and not winning has been an emotional roller coaster," he said.

Although he's never won, O'Connell saved his 18 acceptance speeches, always thanking his mom, 82-year-old Florence "Skippy" O'Connell.

"I said, 'Win one before I die.' And he said, 'Oh that blows it, Mom, because if I win one and you die, the family will blame me for winning one,'" Florence O'Connell said. "So that was kind of the end of that."

"I've often been referred to as the Susan Lucci of the Oscars," O'Connell said.

Lucci was nominated 18 times for television's top prize -- the Emmy -- before winning her 19th nomination.

When "Good Morning America" told Lucci about O'Connell's 18 win-less Oscar nominations, she taped a surprise message for him.

"Kevin, obviously, you have enormous talent. Look at the projects you're working on," Lucci said. "People want your expertise on their projects. … I know that you work because of your own personal drive. But Kevin, winning is better!"

O'Connell was surprised.

"She was nominated, you know, a gazillion times and she won. So if they -- people -- want to compare me to her, I think that's great," O'Connell said.

When the Oscar nominations are announced, O'Connell will find out whether he'll get a 19th nomination.

"The Academy itself stands for excellence," he said. "And I'm very proud to be a part of it, just because they think I'm good enough to be a part of it. And I think that winning an Academy Award is the ultimate goal that you can achieve in our business. So, the pursuit of that is a great, is a great feeling for me to have and keeps me motivated, keeps me going."

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