'Star Wars: Episode VII' Sound Mixer: I Never Thought I'd Be Working on This Project (Q&A)

Rerecording mixer Andy Nelson, a two-time Oscar winner, will be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Cinema Audio Society Awards.
Holger Hoetzel
Andy Nelson

A version of this story first appeared in the Feb. 28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Andy Nelson, who worked with J.J. Abrams on Star Trek Into Darkness and is on board Star Wars: Episode VII, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter ahead of being honored with a Career Achievement Award at the Cinema Audio Society Awards. The ceremony takes place Saturday.

Nelson has won two best sound Oscars, for Saving Private Ryan and Les Miserables, having been nominated 18 times. He has also received 14 BAFTA nominations, winning five awards.

What's the biggest misconception about sound mixers?

The fact that we sit at a mixing console makes it look like a technical craft, but I have always believed it's a creative tool. We are telling a story on the screen.

What is it like to work with J.J. Abrams on Star Trek Into Darkness and the new Star Wars movie?

He can communicate fairly quickly with us, and we can move the soundtrack in the direction he wants. When I saw the first Star Wars in London, I was shocked by what a fantastic experience it was. Star Trek was a TV show I watched growing up. I could never have imagined that I would end up working on feature films with those stories.

STORY: Sound Mixers Reveal Misconceptions About Their Art and Views on Immersive Sound

You used Dolby Atmos on several films. What's the potential of the new immersive sound system?

It's going to become an incredible tool. The use of the Atmos mix in Gravity was one of the greatest steps forward. It was a perfect use for Atmos, to really sense a universe around you.

Cinema Audio Society Awards: Feb. 22 Millennium Biltmore Hotel