I thought that alleged Mae West quote might get your attention…
Back in May 2013, I wrote that I didn’t expect to come across hard man (BrE for “tough guy”) in the U.S. again. It did take almost two years, but in any event, on NPR this morning, host Scott Simon described the captain of the U-boat that sank the Lusitania as “the kind of guy that you might actually, you know, like to have schnapps with, but a very hard man.”
On Google News, all the recent uses of the phrase are British, but I found one interesting. This was an article from the Daily Mail about Tom Benson, the owner of the (American) football team the New Orleans Saints. The article anonymously quotes “a close family source” as saying, ‘Tom has always been a hard man.”
I wouldn’t trust anonymous sources generally, even less so in the Daily Mail. But when a presumably American anonymous source starts throwing around British expressions in that English rag, well, as we say in New York, fuhgeddaboutit.