"The Crown" usually has to choose among a number of powerful actors lining up to audition for a character in the hit Netflix series, but it is facing a different kind of struggle this time.

According to a report in The Sun, the series producers are struggling to find an actor to play the controversial part of Prince Andrew in its fifth season, which will cover the years 1991 to 1997 in the reign of his mother Queen Elizabeth II. The part was played by Tom Byrne in season four, but the series needs an older actor to portray him in his mid-30s to early 40s.

The disgraced royal was stripped of royal duties in 2019 due to his alleged involvement with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein whom he met in 1999. The sixth season of "The Crown," which would have the same cast as season five, could potentially explore his association with Epstein and his British girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.

The demand to play the part is so low that the producers have advertised the job on the actors' database "Spotlight" - trying to attract potential candidates by labelling it a "very good role." A casting source told the outlet about the situation: "Prince Andrew is one of the most unpopular members of the royal family and wannabe stars aren't exactly queuing up to play him."

"It's not the sexiest role and is unlikely to set a Hollywood career alight. However, it might work for a real scene-stealer character artist," the source added.

However, a spokeswoman for the series denied any issue in finding an actor for the role. "There is absolutely no struggle to cast any role for season 5 of The Crown and it is normal practice for productions to advertise in Spotlight," she stated.

The report comes after Byrne, who played the Duke of York in season four, admitted that he had to "switch part of his brain off" to get into the character." The 26-year-old also confessed that he made a "concerted effort" to avoid reading stories about the royal or watch his infamous Newsnight interview as he "didn't need to bring his own judgement into the role."

"It just wasn't useful to me to engage with that stuff - particularly as I was only playing him as a 20-year-old," Byrne had said.

Prince Andrew's lawyers deny lack of cooperation
US investigators have alleged that Britain's Prince Andrew has refused to help in the Epstein investigation. Photo: AFP / JOHN THYS