Farrow screen-tested for the role of Liesl von Trapp in The Sound of Music, but did not get the part. The footage has been preserved, and appears on the fortieth Anniversary Edition DVD of The Sound of Music. Farrow began her acting career by appearing in supporting roles in several 1960s films. However, she achieved stardom on the popular primetime soap operaPeyton Place as naive, waif-like Allison MacKenzie, a role she later abandoned at the urging of first husband Frank Sinatra. Her first leading film role was in Rosemary's Baby (1968), which was a critical and commercial success at the time and continues to be widely regarded as a classic of the horror genre.
Farrow's performance in Rosemary's Baby garnered numerous awards, including the Golden Globe Award for New Star Of The Year - Actress, and established her as a leading actress. Film critic and author Stephen Farber described her performance as having an "electrifying impact… one of the rare instances of actor and character achieving a miraculous, almost mythical match. If Ira Levin's story shrewdly taps into every pregnant woman's fears about the stranger growing inside her, Mia Farrow gives those fears an achingly real and human force".Film critic Roger Ebert noted that "the brilliance of the film comes more from Polanski's direction, and from a series of genuinely inspired performances… The characters emerge as human beings actually doing these things. A great deal of the credit for this achievement must go to Mia Farrow, as Rosemary".Following Rosemary's Baby, Farrow was to be cast as Mattie in True Grit and was keen on the role. However, prior to filming she made Secret Ceremony in England with Elizabeth Taylor and Robert Mitchum. While filming, Mitchum told her about True Grit director Henry Hathaway having a reputation for being rude to actresses. Farrow asked producer Hal Wallis to replace Hathaway, Wallis refused. Farrow quit the role which was then given to Kim Darby. Secret Ceremony divided critics, but has gone on to develop a devoted following. Farrow's other late '60s films include John and Mary, opposite Dustin Hoffman.
In the 1970s, Farrow appeared in a number of notable films, including the thriller See No Evil (1971), French director Claude Chabrol's Docteur Popaul (1972) and The Great Gatsby (1974), in which Farrow played Daisy Buchanan. She also appeared in director Robert Altman's cult classic A Wedding (1978). In 1977, she played the title role in The Haunting of Julia. Farrow also appeared in a number of made for television films in the 1970s, most notably portraying the title role in a musical version ofPeter Pan (1976). In 1979, Farrow appeared on Broadway opposite Anthony Perkins in the play Romantic Comedy by Bernard Slade.
In the 1980s and early '90s, Farrow's relationship with director Woody Allen resulted in numerous film collaborations. She appeared in nearly all of Allen's critically acclaimed films during this period, including leading roles in Broadway Danny Rose, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Hannah and Her Sisters (playing the principal title role),Radio Days and Alice (1990), again as the title character. Farrow also played Alura, mother of Kara (Helen Slater), in Supergirl (1984) and voiced the title role in the animated film The Last Unicorn (1982). She also narrated several of the animated Stories to Remember.
Citing the need to devote herself to raising her young children, Farrow worked less frequently during the 1990s. Nonetheless, she appeared in leading roles in several notable films, included the Irish film Widows' Peak (1994), Miami Rhapsody (1995) and Reckless (also 1995). She also appeared in several independent features and made for television films throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. She also wrote an autobiography, What Falls Away (New York: Doubleday, 1997).
Farrow appeared as Mrs. Baylock, the Satanic nanny, in the remake of The Omen (2006). Though the film itself received a lukewarm critical reception, Farrow's performance was widely praised, with the Associated Press declaring "thank heaven for Mia Farrow" and calling her performance "a rare instance of the new Omenimproving on the old one." Filmcritic.com added "it is Farrow who steals the show", and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer described her performance as "a truly delicious comeback role for Rosemary herself, Mia Farrow, who is chillingly believable as a sweet-talking nanny from hell."
Farrow worked on several films released in 2007, including the romantic comedy The Ex and the first part of director Luc Besson's planned trilogy of fantasy films, Arthur and the Invisibles. In 2008, in director Michel Gondry's Be Kind Rewind, she appeared opposite Jack Black, Mos Def and Danny Glover.
In 2011, Farrow worked in the film Dark Horse, directed by Todd Solondz. The film will be shown at the Venice Film Festival in September 2011, as well as the 2011Toronto International Film Festival the same month.