21-time Oscar nominee with 0 wins keeps enthusiasm for awards season

LOS ANGELES -- Sound mixer Kevin O'Connell knows he's often part of people's Oscar trivia pools: Who's the person with the most Oscar nominations who has never won?

But don't feel sorry for this talented sound mixer. He's here to say it really is an honor just to be nominated.

Since he started working back in 1980 - and now with more than 200 films to his credit - O'Connell has seen - and heard - it all.

As a sound mixer, he and his team are the last part of the filmmaking process. His latest Oscar-worthy project: Mel Gibson's "Hacksaw Ridge."

"It's the time when all of the dialogue, all of the music, and all of the sound effects finally come together to create what you see in the movie theater," said O'Connell. "And it's so gratifying for me to sit and do a final run-through with the director and see the look on his face when we're done and we bring his baby to life."

O'Connell has been invited to the Oscar party for his 21st time as a nominee.

He's yet to win. But does it get old? Not a chance!

"I never lose my enthusiasm for it," said O'Connell. "I was just as excited a few weeks ago when I got the nomination as I was 20 years ago when I got a nomination."

O'Connell came by his career almost by accident. He used to be an LA County firefighter. But his mom encouraged him to look for a less dangerous line of work and introduced him to some friends.

"I went down to the studio, sort of thought it looked really cool, got hired and my first year I worked on films like 'Grease,' 'Raiders of the Lost Ark,' the 'Empire Strikes Back.' I just fell in love with it," said O'Connell.

"I said to my mother after that, how can I ever thank you? She thought about it for a minute and she said I'll tell you what, you work hard, you work really hard, and win yourself an Oscar. And someday you can stand on that stage in front of the whole world and you can thank me in front of everybody."

Don't miss the 89th Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m. ET| 4 p.m. PT LIVE on ABC. Red carpet coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET/2 p.m. PT with "On The Red Carpet At The Oscars." Check your local listings.