The 21st time was the charm for legendary sound mixer Kevin O’Connell at the Oscars. He won his first Academy Award — after 20 previous losses — for his work on Mel Gibson’s WWII drama “Hacksaw Ridge.”
The win was a modest upset, as many pundits had pegged musical “La La Land” to waltz off with the prize.
“I can’t even tell you the experience it was for me,” O’Connell said backstage after the victory. “As much as I thought I knew what it would feel like [to win an Oscar] I didn’t. It was the greatest feeling in my entire life. I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to work with [the sound mixing team].”
O’Connell shares the Oscar win with Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace. It’s the first Oscar for all four men.
Wright noted the triumph was especially sweet to share with O’Connell. “It’s extra special to be standing here with Kevin,” Wright said backstage. “Rob and myself — we’ve idolized him, we grew up on the films that he’s mixed. We’ve learned by watching the films he’s done. To win an Oscar standing next to him is unbelievable.”
O’Connell admitted he had grown accustomed to his losing streak. “I wasn’t expecting it to happen,” he said. “But I feel as though I’m eternally grateful that it happened specifically because of the project that it was. Mel Gibson did such an amazing job, Andrew Garfield, the entire cast and crew.”
When asked which of his 21 nominated films was the most difficult, O’Connell went back to an old school title: “I’m gonna go back to 1986 with ‘Top Gun.’ It was an incredible amount of work, a huge undertaking, we didn’t have automation that we do now that helps us do our job. [That was] by far the most difficult film I’ve worked on.”