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Johnny Depp makes a surprise cameo as a Moonman at the 2022 VMAs

“Hey, you know what? I needed the work,” Depp said in his first major public appearance since his defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard concluded.
Johnny Depp appears in a space suit on video during the VMAs on Aug. 28, 2022, at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.
Johnny Depp appears in a space suit on video during the VMAs on Aug. 28, 2022, at Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.Getty Images for MTV

Johnny Depp made his first public appearance at the MTV Video Music Awards since the end of the highly public defamation trial between him and ex-wife Amber Heard.

After Lizzo and Fergie wrapped the show’s opening performance, a Moonman rose above the stage. The visor split apart to reveal a digital version of Depp’s face.

“Hey, you know what?” Depp said. “I needed the work. I just want you guys to know that I’m available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings, wakes, any old thing you need.”

The statement is most likely a reference to Depp’s career trajectory since he was embroiled in the legal battle with Heard.

In 2019, Depp sued Heard for $50 million over an op-ed she wrote for The Washington Post in 2018, in which she identified herself as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp was not named in the piece, but his legal team wrote in a complaint filed in 2019 that it was a “clear implication that Mr. Depp is a domestic abuser.” Depp denied all allegations of abuse.

Heard’s legal team countersued for $100 million, saying Depp and his legal team defamed her by launching a “smear campaign” and devaluing her allegations of domestic abuse.

Heard, in testimony, detailed numerous instances of abuse during their relationship, which she told "TODAY" she stands by. Depp, in his legal team’s initial filing, said Heard “is not a victim of domestic abuse, she is a perpetrator.” 

Ultimately, the jury found “clear and convincing evidence” that Heard defamed Depp when she wrote the op-ed, which was effectively a rejection of Heard’s testimony.

Depp won $10 million in compensatory damages when the verdict was read in June. The jury also awarded Depp $5 million in punitive damages, which the judge reduced to $350,000. Heard won $2 million in compensatory damages.

After the verdict was read, Depp said in a statement that the jury had given him "my life back.”

Depp’s career has apparently moved forward, as the MTV VMAs performance demonstrates.

While the jury deliberated, Depp performed with Jeff Beck in England. He launched a TikTok page days after the trial concluded. In June, Depp announced a summer 2023 European tour with his band, Hollywood Vampires.

Depp also began filming his first feature film in three years this month; he’s playing King Louis XV in the love story “Jeanne du Barry.” Depp also this month announced his first directing job since 1997, with “Modigliani,” a biopic produced by Al Pacino.