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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 during his first major public appearance since his defamation trial against ex-wife Amber Heard concluded in June.

Johnny Depp made his first public appearance at the 2022 VMAs since the highly public defamation trial concluded between the actor 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 a likely reference to the actor's career trajectory since being embroiled in legal battle with ex-wife 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 as a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Depp was not named in the story, 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 that 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, although the judge reduced that penalty to $350,000. Heard, on her end, won $2 million in compensatory damages.

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

The actor's career has apparently moved forward, as the MTV VMAs performance demonstrates.

While the jury deliberated, Depp was seen performing 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.

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