‘I needed the work’: Johnny Depp makes surprise appearance at MTV’s Video Music Awards

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Johnny Depp made a surprise cameo at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards – telling the audience he “needed the work” as he was projected on stage as the channel’s famous Moon Man astronaut mascot.

The actor and musician opened the ceremony on a night that saw British star Harry Styles, Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj among the big winners.

Depp‘s appearance at the show marks the latest step in a comeback into the public sphere since winning his multimillion-dollar lawsuit against his ex-wife Amber Heard.

Cut-outs to cover-ups: MTV red carpet fashion

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Taylor Swift accepts the award for video of the year for "All Too Well" (10 Minute Version) (Taylor's Version) at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Nicki Minaj accepts the video vanguard award at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

He later declared he was available for “birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings, wakes, anything you need… anything” – adding: “Oh, I’m also a dentist.”

Swift and Styles both took home several awards – and she used one of her acceptance speeches to announce a new album.

Referencing how she is re-recording her old records as part of a move to regain control of her back catalogue, she told the crowd: “I’m so honoured to have been recognised alongside such amazing artists and directors.

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“For the first time in VMA history, four of the directors in the video of the year category are women.

“You guys, I’m just so proud of what we made and with every second of this moment and we wouldn’t have been able to make this short film if it wasn’t for the fans.

“I wouldn’t be able to re record my albums if it wasn’t for you… you emboldened me to do that.”

She continued: “Because you’ve been so generous I thought it might be a fun moment to tell you that my brand new album comes out on 21 October.”

Sharing details on social media later on, Swift revealed the album will be called Midnights, “the stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life”, and will be released in October.

Fergie performs "First Class" at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP
Flea, of Red Hot Chili Peppers, accepts the award for best rock for "Black Summer" at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Newark, N.J. From left looking on are fellow band members Anthony Kiedis, John Frusciante and Chad Smith. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Swift won awards including best video and best longform video, for All Too Well (10 Minute Version) (Taylor’s Version), which features Stranger Things star Sadie Sink and Teen Wolf star Dylan O’Brien and went viral earlier in 2022 as fans speculated about the song’s meaning.

Her best video win makes her the only artist in history to have won the award three times, following previous wins for Bad Blood in 2015 and You Need to Calm Down in 2019.

Styles picked up prizes including album of the year, for Harry’s House, and best pop for single As It Was, but didn’t appear at the ceremony in person.

He apologised for his absence despite being “just down the road” as he is on tour in the US. The awards ceremony In Newark, New Jersey, clashed with a performance at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Other awards went to Bad Bunny, who was named artist of the year; Dove Cameron, who took home best new artist, and Billie Eilish, whose track Happier Than Ever was honoured as song of the year.

Former Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie was the first performer of the night, singing her hit song Glamorous with one of the night’s co-hosts, Jack Harlow.

Lizzo walks on stage to accept the video for good award for "About Damn Time" at the MTV Video Music Awards at the Prudential Center on Sunday, Aug. 28, 2022, in Newark, N.J. (Photo by Charles Sykes/Invision/AP)
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Pic: Charles Sykes/Invision/AP

Moments later, Harlow was awarded the first gong of the night, for best collaboration, alongside Lil Nas X for their track Industry Baby.

Hip hop stars LL Cool J and Nicki Minaj also presented.

Minaj performed a medley of her songs and was named the winner of the night’s vanguard award, a lifetime achievement prize named after Michael Jackson.

The rapper mentioned Jackson in her acceptance speech, saying: “I wish that Whitney Houston and Michael Jackson were here. I wish that people understood what they meant and what they were going through. I wish that people took mental health seriously, even for the people who you think had the perfect lives.”

Elsewhere, the Red Hot Chili Peppers were named the global icon winners and also won the best rock award.

The band’s bassist Flea paid tribute to the late Foo Fighters drummer Taylor Hawkins.

“There’s another musical legend and his name is Taylor Hawkins… I miss him every day,” he told the audience. “Fly on brother.”

Rap legends Eminem and Snoop Dogg were also among the performers, giving a “metaverse” rendition of their collaborative track From The D 2 The LBC.

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