Johnny Depp's brief MTV VMAs cameo appearance divides viewers

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Johnny Depp's on-screen return is getting mixed reviews on social media.

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" star, who is working to restore his acting career after abuse allegations and yearslong legal battles with ex-wife Amber Heard, made multiple recorded appearances during Sunday's MTV Video Music Awards as the show's mascot, the moonperson.

With his face appearing digitally inside an astronaut suit and floating above the stage, Depp joked early in the show he "needed the work."

He later returned to viewers' screens in the same getup to further tease his unemployment status.

"I just want you guys to know I’m available for birthdays, bar mitzvahs, bat mitzvahs, weddings, wakes … any old thing you need, you name it," he said. "Oh, I’m also a dentist."

Depp shared a clip of his appearance on his official Instagram page with the caption, "guess who?" and tagged MTV.

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USA TODAY has reached out to MTV and Depp's reps for comment.

Depp is plunging back into the entertainment industry after a Virginia jury awarded him more than $10 million in damages, vindicating his stance that Heard fabricated claims that she was abused by Depp before and during their brief marriage.

Heard also partially won her countersuit over comments made by Depp's former lawyer Adam Waldman when he called her abuse allegations a hoax. The jury awarded her $2 million in damages.

Both Depp and Heard have announced plans to appeal the verdicts against them.

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Reaction to Johnny Depp's VMAs appearance

Viewers were divided on Depp's return to the screen – just as they were during the contentious defamation trial. Depp's fans loved the cameos while critics, including Heard's sister Whitney, slammed the network for including the controversial actor in the program.

"MTV you’re disgusting and clearly desperate!" wrote Whitney Heard on her Instagram story. "I really hope that none of the people that made this call have daughters."

Another critic tweeted: "Johnny Depp got to be at the VMAs because he’s an abuser. Because people joined him and helped him humiliate and further abuse his victim, Amber Heard. Now he is more loved than ever while Amber is still getting harassed daily for speaking up against abuse."

And one Twitter naysayer criticized Hollywood. "Johnny Depp - a proven abuser - being at the VMAs making jokes is exactly why abuse victims don’t come forward and why the toxic culture of intimate partner violent persists. The entertainment industry is truly irredeemable."

Other fans appreciated his antics.

"Not Johnny Depp’s hologram being at the VMAs for like 10 seconds and Twitter being this active. The power he holds. This man is iconic," wrote one fan.

Another said Depp "proved" he was abused by his ex-wife and then was defamed. "If you keep refusing to accept that Amber lied it just makes you a jerk or a supporter of abuser."

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Johnny Depp projects in the works following libel trial

Depp announced earlier in August his return to the director's chair for the first time in 25 years.

He will direct a film adaptation of Dennis McIntyre's play "Modigliani" based on Italian painter and sculptor Amedeo Modigliani, according to a press release provided to USA TODAY from Depp's publicist Breanna Butler. The movie is titled "Modi."

Depp's U.K.-based production company IN.2, the European arm of production company Infinitum Nihil, announced the project, noting Depp, 59, will direct and co-produce the film alongside Al Pacino and Barry Navidi.

Depp has also been touting his musical talents. Ahead of the trial verdict, he was spotted performing on stage alongside Jeff Beck during the English rocker's concert at Sheffield City Hall in England.

Depp returns: Actor teams up with Al Pacino, Barry Navidi to direct first movie in 25 years

Depp's music: He give surprise guitar performance with Jeff Beck in the UK as libel trial verdict awaits

Contributing: Maria Puente, Naledi Ushe

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Johnny Depp's surprise appearance as MTV VMAs astronaut divides fans