Siffredi's screen name was reportedly inspired by a character from the movie Borsalino (1970), "Roch Siffredi", played by Alain Delon. He is also known as the "Italian Stallion", a reference to his penis size.
After starting his film career in France, he subsequently starred in films abroad in such varied locales as Budapest, Hungary (which later became the headquarters of his production company, Rocco Siffredi Produzioni), Canada, Russia, Brazil, and various Eastern European countries. He became famous in the pornographic film community for his penchant for anal sex and analingus, which built him a cult following over the course of his career.
Siffredi's films vary widely in content and tone. He has appeared in romantic adventures and comedies in the Vivid style, but his later work with John Stagliano's Evil Angel Video involve BDSM scenes in which Siffredi spits on women, slaps them, performs irrumatio and watersports (censored in U.S. versions), makes his co-stars gag during deepthroat, and occasionally pulls hair to the point of causing tears. On rare occasion, Siffredi himself has been the recipient of dominant sexual treatment, portraying the submissive in films like Rocco più che mai a Londra 2, Animal Trainer 11, and Il Marchese de Sade, appearing in drag in the latter.
Many of his films begin with affectionate, romantic scenes that turn into bouts of marathon violent anal sex. Climaxes often involve such activities as Siffredi focusing the camera on the distended anus of one of his female co-stars, spitting into it, ejaculating into it, and then having other co-stars clean the woman's anus with their tongues.
He has also produced and starred in "shemale" movies, such as "Rocco Siffredi - She-Males Invade Italy", "A Trans Named Desire", "Trans Obsessions", and "More Trans Obsessions".
Siffredi took this tradition one step further when directing Never Say Never to Rocco Siffredi, when, filming in a park, Siffredi grabbed passing (presumed) strangers and then requested that his female co-stars perform oral sex on them. Although they appear genuine, it is not uncommon for such seemingly realistic scenes to be set up ahead of time by directors/producers. Despite the sometimes extreme nature of his genre of pornography, he has been consistently able to find young European actresses willing to star in his pictures.
Siffredi is one of a few porn actors to enjoy crossover appeal and success with respect to other segments of the adult-film industry, as well as some in mainstream media. As a primary example, although his acting has been restricted exclusively to heterosexual pornography, his good looks have resulted in his attracting a large gay audience. In December 1990, Rocco was selected to pose as the nude centerfold in the adult mainstream magazine Playgirl. Depicted on the cover next to Rocco was the caption "At last, a centerfold to die for." This publicity improved Rocco's mass appeal to American porn audiences.
In 1999, he appeared in the controversial Catherine Breillat film Romance. His performance in this role was followed by a part specifically written for him by the same director in her 2003 film Anatomie de L'enfer (Anatomy of Hell), in which he plays a self-identified gay man who becomes sexually involved with a woman. Both films feature unsimulated sexual scenes involving Siffredi, although it is disputed whether he actually has intercourse with co-star Caroline Ducey in Romance. (She says no, Siffredi says yes.)
Siffredi is also visible in non-pornographic roles on Italian television, including:
In June 2004, Siffredi declared that he would retire from performing in porn for the sake of his children and instead focus on filming and producing. "My children are growing up," he said, "and I can no longer just say 'Dad is going to work to make money for the family.' They want to know more." However, as of 2008, Siffredi has continued to perform. Porn director Axel Braun told Adult Video News in 2004: "The problem is that he's been trying for years to find an 'heir to the throne,' but it's no easy task. He thought he found him in Nacho Vidal, but then Nacho went his own way."
He was recently voted No. 10 in AVN's list of the Top 50 Porn Stars of All Time. He's received numerous other awards, including the prestigious Hot D'Or Platinum Award and XRCO Hall of Fame induction.
He was said to have taken a year off of working in front of the camera after having elected to be circumcised.