In a surprise appearance, Depp earned a standing ovation Sunday night when he accepted his award for best performance.
Wearing a flannel shirt tied around his waist, grunge-style, he said, "I'm not very good at this kind of thing, but just to say thanks to all of you guys. ... I'm deeply touched.
Moments later, he was back onstage when Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest earned the best movie award.
"I want to thank [the producers] and Disney for not firing me first. We were teetering on that for a while," he said, then joked, referring to his statuette, "Want some popcorn?"
Still, the talk of the night wasn't a movie star at all – it was Paris Hilton, who turned up on the pink carpet at Universal Studios' Gibson Amphitheater as part of her high-profile countdown to prison.
Asked about her impending jail time, Hilton told reporters: "I'm definitely scared but I'm ready to face my sentence. My friends and family and my fans have supported me and it's been really helpful in this really scary time."
She added that she hopes doing time will improve her image. "I feel like the media portrays me in a way that I'm not and that's why I want to go to county and show that I can do it," she told E!'s Samantha Harris.
Once inside, Hilton was forced to put on a brave face when host Sarah Silverman made a bawdy joke about how she might feel more comfortable in prison. When the camera panned to Hilton in the audience, she appeared close to tears.
Chris Polk / FilmMagic
But Hilton wasn't the only one who got laughs: Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen celebrated their win for best kiss in Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby by falling to the floor in a passionate embrace.
And Cameron Diaz, presenting the MTV Generation Award to her Shrek the Third costar Mike Myers, quipped: "Shall I shag him now? Or shall I shag him later?"
Reporting By MARISA LAUDADIO