Hiddleston told GQ that the shirt, which launched a thousand memes, was "a joke among friends." He explained:
The truth is, it was the Fourth of July and a public holiday and we were playing a game and I slipped and hurt my back. And I wanted to protect the graze from the sun and said, 'Does anyone have a T-shirt?’ And one of her friends said, 'I’ve got this.' The friend pulled out the "I ♥ T.S." tank top. And we all laughed about it. It was a joke."
So there's the story. He continued, "I was just surprised that it got so much attention. The tank top became an emblem of this thing."
While hinting at the speculation and criticism without addressing the Hiddleswift drama by name, he said, “If you’re under attack, if your values are under attack, if you’re being shamed, if you’re being humiliated, the animal response is to hide in the bush...And the lesson of 2016 is we have to love more, we have to risk more, we have to be braver, we have to be more outspoken."
Hiddleston stressed that it was just a shirt, people. "Nobody had the context for that story," he said. "And I’m still trying to work out a way of having a personal life and protecting it, but also without hiding."
Read the full GQ article here.